CCJ conference - getting CCS moving

Feb 03 2013

Carbon Capture Journal hosted a free half day conference in London on October 8, where delegates discussed whether the industry is developing at a satisfactory pace and looked at possible ways to accelerate growth. The conference was chaired by Stuart Haszeldine, professor of carbon capture and storage, School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh.

Stuart Haszeldine opened the event by outlining the cluster concept in the UK. The Yorkshire and Humber cluster offered economies of scale, he said, and had been very well thought out by CO2 Sense. There are also storage clusters that, although not ready yet because more work needs to be done to fully understand them, could also offer economies.

It is how you go from individual projects to developing a network that is currently unclear. “That plan is not very emergent yet,” he said, “because it is pretty clear that we have six or so bidders into the UK?competition, there may be one or two or even three lucky winners, but what we do with the others to incentivise them to keep on being interested is not clear.”

Moving on to transport, the role of shipping is not often discussed, he said. We have a lot of port infrastructure in the UK and it is strange that we are not talking about shipping more. A CO2 ship would be a good way to transport CO2 to test a storage site before you build an expensive pipeline. It could also bring in CO2 from Europe and would be very flexible.

Talking about getting CCS going, most of the projects around the world that have got off the ground involved a value added proposition, he said. An example of this is Enhanced Oil Recovery, which CCS could enable, and the extra oil out of the ground could make a project cost effective.


Panel discussion

Stuart Haszeldine was joined by all the speakers: Vegar Stokset, head of communications, CO2 Technology Centre Mongstad, Dr Chris Satterley, Technical Consultant, EON Newbuild and Technology Ltd, Dr Ward Goldthorpe, Programme Manager, CCS & Gas Storage, Crown Estate, James Watt, technical manager, AMEC.

Sheila Baynes Senergy: I am a geologist, so I have to bring the storage part into this. So, the storage part- it’s got the longest lead time, you’re talking about certifying storage sites, that in itself is 2-3 years minimum, a big investment. How are you looking at that taking place? There are many- many studies out there. Are they of a level that we are allowed to certify a store– what levels of understanding are you expecting before you certify a store, because the subsurface is quite pesky, you can have carbon capture once it is efficient and safe, you can repeat it… storage is different every time. Is there a way that we can speed this up? Is there a way of getting investment companies themselves or groups themselves investing in the future and to creating certified storage sites?

Dr. Ward Goldthorpe: If one stands back and looks at this as a system, and says what are the things that need to take place to take us to a certain point in time, let’s say around the mid 20’s, then that parallel pathway has to encourage this type of thing.

When I talk about that positive feedback coming back from storage and the things, it’s about how does one encourage and how does one facilitate those sorts of different timeline, and different set of activities to what’s happening in the capturing of the chain. So, if we need to certify storage sites within the few years what are the things we need to do?

We need to let’s say provide some kind of tax incentives- if you are going to spend money on doing something that is totally a risk that there’s no value in it or use for business, but there is value in doing it to the community then is it tax incentives, is it capital allowances, is it other sorts of joint industry projects, do we raise funding from different sources because banks won’t give it to you to undertake such…well at the end of the day it’s so high risk that there is no future for it, unless we create the future for it.

So, this is what I mean about market enabling business models – how do we from a regulatory point of view, how do we from a financing point of view, how do we from a policy point of view or in the government interventions will they be through the taxation mechanisms - all of those sorts of things have to be looked at, and have to be looked at independently and on separate pathways to the way we've been approaching CCS for the power industry.

James Watt: I don’t agree with Ward frankly. Well we have been looking at how effective this is, there are certain things that I think from my personal perspective I would like to see may be the paradigm changing, maybe not relying so much on the developers, maybe someone taking control and saying, ‘this is our resource.’

I think that’s what it needs, there are too many people messing around us saying the same thing and not actually doing anything, I think there needs to be a consistent approach, not a driven approach otherwise it could just stop.

Stuart Haszeldine: Because Ward you talked about returning value by the carbon avoided, but how do you monetize that? How does that get transmitted to somebody. That’s a communal benefits, but I didn’t quite understand how that turns into dollars or pounds.

Goldthorpe: That part of the feedback is something that we would see in the future…but I think the first point is that I believe that it’s been forgotten in the current framework that is being set up, so my agenda is to start thinking about it.

Now the second thing is can we actually ascribe a value that should flow in that direction, and one of the things we have done at the Crown of State is the framework that we have set up for the first of a kind of leasing arrangements to ensure that there is a linkage back to the price of carbon.

Why? This is not because we want to gouge a price out of the whole system, it is because on the one hand the non renewable resource ala the poreage space is being messed up, and what is the value of that poreage space? Ultimately the value of that poreage space is linked to avoided emissions. But secondly the first of a kind of projects – if they did not link to the cost of the carbon, then I believe that the model going forward would forget about that particular branch of the feedback.

So that’s why we have deliberately structured our arrangements in the first of a kind projects, including the carbon price linkage. But the point is that as I said that if you had a carbon price large enough overnight £70 pounds, £100 per ton, people would come out of the woodwork because it’s a reliable alternative. So, our task jointly I think is to commence the process of an understanding that there is a carbon value flow which is happening in places where you have utilization. There is a value on carbon flowing along the value chain. In this case if we have the only value flow coming from a feeding barrel then we will forget about creation of the value flow we need to create from carbon.

Haszeldine: So it’s partly descaring the government.

Mike of Planetizen: Ward and James both made comments which would have come straight from the mouth of Greenpeace. Ward at the beginning of his presentation said really the time will change, and James saying the best thing to do is possible carbon chemically used up, not to burn it.

That really brings me to Ward’s contention that we can still increase the value of CCS by employing Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), which strikes me as a contradiction in terms because we are taking carbon from big point sources, projecting it, pushing it straight underground, and pulling out oil which is only going to be used for motor transport and where it is of course completely irrecoverable what is burnt in millions of car engines.

Goldthorpe: I have a view that we need to look at all of what we do from a system level…So, from that starting point the globe has a carbon budget…we know that…and we know that if we exceed that budget we may be on a different track - certainly beyond the 2 degrees warming track…and the more we exceed the carbon budget the further beyond that we go.

So, when I do talk about these things, I don’t talk about them in isolation, I talk about them in the context of the carbon budget. We have to also take a pragmatic and a practical view…we can talk about the theory of de-carbonization, or we can do it in a practical way. We clearly are not going to remove that dependency on liquid fuels for transport in a hurry. But we do have to do it.

And I would suggest that that is another feedback within the system. The feedback that I am talking about at the moment is within the context of removing the most damaging of emissions, at the same time as getting ourselves on a pathway where we can handle other emissions, because herein is the feedback that we need to deal with.

The feedback that we are consuming oil for transportation but we would really like to have let’s say electrical transportation, electrical cars….but to get electric cars, we have to produce more electricity. To produce more electricity we have to have the electrical generation system de-carbonized, because obviously we don’t want that to be adding to emissions….so my view is we really do have to look at the entire system…we do have carbon budgets, we recognize that…. but liquid fuels as part of that system will have to be phased out…..but in phasing them out, we obviously phase in a feedback that requires more electricity. So, I think short answer to your question is well I truly understand where you are coming from, but in order to manage these various feedbacks, we have to start somewhere.

Satterley: Just from a power generator’s point of view as well, and looking at this from our side and going back to Stuart’s graph with what the large cost requirements would be (Fig. 1), we want to bring this technology online and move it forward…we have to as Ward says do it in a pragmatic way that EOR gives a potential in the relatively short term to add a lot of value to that carbon initially - to get those high cost first projects off the ground. So there’s a benefit there longer term in looking at EOR. Even though again, I agree with you that as a longer term strategy in itself, it pays a lot to be consistent.


Crown Estate

Dr Ward Goldthorpe, Programme Manager, CCS & Gas Storage, Crown Estate, talked about how to make the best use of the Crown’s offshore storage resources and how to overcome the barriers to commercialisation of CCS.

He began by saying that the current approach is setting up strains in the system and not creating a level playing field.

“We are not intervening in the economic theories in a way that it is going to deliver what it is that we all wish to deliver,” he said. “In fact if anything, one of the concerns that I would like to suggest is that what we are doing is increasing the difficulty for ourselves of deploying CCS because we are actually setting up new market failures [...] and new externalities that will feed back to prevent us or constrain us from delivering CCS.”

He continued by outlining the Crown’s objectives moving forward. “First is that we are and have been for a while now working on the number of supporting functions to go into delivering the first of a kind CCS Project here in the UK. We have done a lot of work with DECC (Department for Climate Change), we have done a lot of work with potential storage operators who have I must say contributed a lot to thinking on how the UK licensing and permitting and in our case leasing regime should work.”

“But also because it’s where we want to go, it’s not where we are, we have a clear objective, and this is where most of our effort now is being focused. Our clear objective for the future is we will or we believe we have the role to take on competitive storage leasing on the UK continental shelf.”

“We are giving a lot of thought to the way that we could bring storage sites to the market place beyond the commercialization program. But also bearing in mind that the commercialization program itself is a rather long term affair for anyone who is going to be involved in contract negotiations with DECC and then the financing arrangements, and putting their projects together; it’s not going to happen overnight.”

He compared CO2 transport &?storage (CTS) to the fledgling LNG?industry, where a complex value chain had to be put together to make it commercial and no-one was willing to take on the risk. The transition between first-of-a-kind and commercial projects was all important, he said, and that is what the Crown of State is looking at.

He talked about how CCS deployment is currently being driven through electricity market reforms, but pointed out that transport and storage operates in a different sector with different economics and lead times.

“We had a bad experience with trying to drive CCS in Queensland in Australia through the Zero-Gen project. Fine to do the power station, fine to do the capture, but it turned out that the storage proposition didn’t work- too risky. So we actually have a real life learning from this type of model.”

Looking at the CTS side first, we can optimise the resource and develop clusters to benefit from collobration, he said.

“So, get to the crux of the issue here. How do we make CCS move faster? I believe we have to create what I call a positive feedback. At the moment, we are driving the development of CO2 transport and storage from one end of the chain. We need to drive from the other end of the chain, at the transport storage end of things to deliver the benefits upstream at the source and these twin conjunction will provide much more of a system approach to CCS and to de-carbonization than a linear one dimensional approach.”



James Watt, technical manager, AMEC, talked about the challenges of deploying a common infrastructure network for CCS, given that first-of-a-kind projects inevitably only require small scale point to point CO2 transport.

“The only way we are going to make this industry go faster is to tell people what we have learnt, and we have learnt an awful lot,” he said. “The key learning I will point out over six years infrastructure studies [...] is that it’s not actually about the emitter, the more we do the more we realize it’s more about the store.”

“And the store…in the last study we did the metrics around the storage cluster and how you store the stuff actually drives the shape of the network more than the emitter and that’s easy forgotten at the start. It’s been a long hard process to learn but we are getting there.”

“So, what are the deployment challenges that are facing us? The first projects are not here yet, we are talking about predominantly source to storage projects from A to B, so there’s one emitter maybe two emitters that are close together, next door to each other, one pipeline, one store. That’s not going to answer your infrastructure challenges, that’s not going to make infrastructure roll in itself into clusters quicker, it’s going to slow it down to a certain extent.”

Funding is of course an issue, he said, and emitters and stores need to get talking so storage sites can be proved well ahead of time, “emitters can build quicker than you can assess and properly evaluate a store and then build that store.”

He said there were some pretty major unknowns that could hold up the deployment of pipelines, but the issues were being looked into, “there’s no evidence from that body of knowledge that comes out from the States that CO2 pipelines are any more inherently dangerous than natural gas pipelines or oil pipelines.”

“Clustering, we need a better understanding of behaviors. Now what I mean by behaviors is not just the technical behaviors, it’s how all those emitters and all those different companies interact on a cluster basis, how you are going to transport all that carbon dioxide, how are you going to trace the carbon dioxide, how is the emitter gonna be responsible for its carbon dioxide if it goes out of specification for example. There needs to be a commercial and technical understanding of those clusters.”

Flexibility is a major issue that is coming up, he said. “Power stations don’t generally just come on and stay on: there are power stations that that will come on at a certain time of the day. How that affects the pipeline, and more importantly how does that affect the storage site? The crux of the last study we did was that the storage site impacts the flexibility requirements of the pipeline. How the pipeline can react to both emitters and stores is not very well understood.”

“We need to understand compression; the forgotten child of transportation is dehydration and conditioning. The different stores have different requirements for water and oxygen, and that has the possibility of raising costs, and that’s not very well understood. So we need to understand that to move forward.”

There were a few learning points about moving things faster gained from experience over the years, he said..

“Competency, it sounds silly, there’s not that much experience in CO2 whether it’s capture, whether it’s pipelines, or it’s offshore. It’s the research, the normal engineers, the engineering companies like mine, making sure that they are up to standard, it’s a new fluid that’s not been handled very much. It’s not a new fluid, but it’s an old fluid being handled in a different way.”

“These things need to be built on. We have a new course within AMEC to be run out - no one is allowed to do anything on a CCS project until I have certified they are okay to do it.”

“The forgotten thing on where we need to go make the industry go a little faster in this regard is Experience, Engagement, Education. We need to train our engineers, we need to train our people, to be able to deliver these projects, we need to raise our knowledge levels up from there, and that will come from the demo programs, second generation deployments, developments, and research, and transferring that research in usable form to industry.”

“Regardless of whether it’s a cluster or a single source, the key things to make this industry go faster is we need a project, we need a project to move on, to close that learning loop between academic and industry experiences,” he concluded. “The industry is not going to move any faster until someone starts mainstream at the ground.”

In the Q&A session, Belinda Perriman from Shell said, “You finished your talk saying putting steel in the ground; I would love to hear your opinion on putting a lot more plastic. Either pipelines in wells, in capture plants, that was mentioned by Chris earlier as well. So how much potential is there you think in changing what we are thinking about.”

“I kind of have to stick my hand up and say back in 2006, when we were looking at the Mersey & Dee Basin, we were looking at plastic pipelines were probably the way to go, but that’s only low pressure,” replied Mr. Watt.

“They can only stand so much. And if you can enable small emitters and medium sized emitters into that kind of gas network, polyethelene, one of the big plastic pipeline systems, then that’s great. But you have to look at the whole mechanical aspect of CO2 and then the failure issues.”

“I don't think we quite understand the failure behavior of CO2 and pipelines to say we want to go plastic pipelines. And we need to understand that a bit more, but I would like to think once we have go past the point where steel pipeline is good and it works, then the industry particularly the universities will start looking at what’s next, what kind of hybrid materials you can use, what kind of polymers you can use, and all the different aspects which come with it. And that goes the same for the absorbers, and the same for downhole.”

Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage

Previous: Making money from mineralisation of CO2

Next: CCS for gas - results of Element Energy study

Issue 96 - Nov - Dec 2023

CCUS in Asia - CCUS landscape in Asia-Pacific .. Research in Korea: recycling CO2 and waste materials into commercially viable products .. Developing a CCUS value chain in Indonesia Porthos project launched in Netherlands .. The convergence of biote.....