The energy transition can only be successful with CO2 capture and storage (CCS) technologies

The Maritza Iztok complex can acquire a completely new vision by re-equipping the power plants together with large RES-capacities and energy storage systems

Energy / Bulgaria
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The COVID-19 pandemic has played and plays a significant role in energy transformation. Plans for recovery and development after its disappearance rely on a rapid energy transition to green energy. The new model of energy transition is changing very quickly the conditions of the global not only energy but also financial markets and is building a new vision for energy security.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is possible through the use of technologies and innovative solutions, including renewable energy sources (RES) and nuclear energy, increasing energy efficiency, both in energy production and by optimizing the management of energy supply and consumption .

Emissions can be reused by converting them to useful industrial raw materials through carbon capture and utilization solutions. It is possible to offset carbon emissions through natural processes and decomposition, including through the use of renewable energy sources such as biofuels, bioenergy and energy sources such as methanol, ammonia and urea through natural cycle and processing. This also includes the removal of emissions into the atmosphere emitted by heavy industries through facilities, carbon capture and storage (natural and geological), as well as direct capture of carbon dioxide from the air. Large companies in the world consider carbon capture and storage to be one of the most promising technologies. The IEA is adamant that without carbon capture and storage (CCS) the transition will not be possible.

Global CCS Institute: Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is changing the game

In the fight against climate change, carbon capture and storage (CCS) is changing the game and making it an essential part of the solution. A special report by the Climate Change Panel (IPCC) on global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius highlights the importance of achieving net zero emissions by the middle of the century. He presents four scenarios for limiting the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius. All of them concern CO2 removal, and three involve the main use of CCS. A scenario that does not use CCS requires the most radical changes in human behavior.

To achieve cost-effective net zero emissions, investing in CCS can help in four main ways.

Achieving deep decarbonization in energy intensive sectors

The cement, iron and steel and chemical sectors emit carbon due to the nature of their industrial processes, and high temperature heat requirements. They are among the most difficult to decarbonize. Several reports, including by the Energy Transition Commission and the International Energy Agency (IEA), conclude that achieving zero net emissions in these energy-intensive sectors is impossible and more expensive without CCS. CCS is one of the most advanced and cost-effective options for achieving low-carbon production.

Hydrogen is likely to play a major role in decarbonizing energy-intensive sectors. It can also be an important source of energy for home heating and flexible energy production.

Coal or natural gas with CCS is the cheapest way to produce low-carbon hydrogen. This will remain the lowest cost option in regions where large quantities of affordable renewable electricity are not available for electrolysis producing hydrogen and fossil fuel prices are low. In order to decarbonise energy-intensive sectors and reach zero emissions, global hydrogen production must increase significantly, from 70 Mt per year (Mtpa) today to 425-650 Mt per year by the middle of the century.

Providing low-carbon renewable energy

The decarbonisation of electricity generation is crucial to achieving net zero emissions. CCS-equipped power plants supply low-carbon electricity as well as grid stabilization services. Network stabilization services cannot be provided by photovoltaic (PV) or wind energy. CCS complements renewable energy sources by helping to make the low-carbon network of the future sustainable and reliable.

Provision of negative emissions

Residual emissions in energy-intensive sectors must be offset. CCS provide the basis for technology-based removal of carbon dioxide, including bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) and direct capture from the air with carbon storage (DACCS).

Carbon storage and capture projects are being done in all countries and in all sectors. The forefront falls of the United States with 18 projects. In its 2020 report, the Global Institute for CCS (carbon capture and storage) draws attention to three countries with by far the most successful and committed projects taking place in Europe, which are characterized by the comprehensiveness of industries. It is Norway, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands that have joined forces in this difficult sector. Can Bulgaria be ambitious enough to launch a similar project on the territory of the Maritsa East complex? This is a question that will be answered in the coming months, and time is of the essence.

Europe's projects

Definitely the most advanced is Norway, which has a comprehensive program - Longship.

Three CCS projects are being considered under the Longship. The government is proposing the start of a carbon capture project at the Norcem cement plant in Brevik.

In addition, Norway intends to partially fund the CCS system at the Fortum Oslo Varme waste incineration plant in Oslo, provided that the owners also invest sufficient funds and also if funding is obtained from the EU or other sources.

Longship also involves funding a Northern Lights transportation and storage project with oil and gas giant Equinor, Shell and Total. Longship provides for the construction of new infrastructure. The ground is already being prepared for the inclusion of other carbon capture projects in CO2 storage facilities in Norway.

According to an international group of experts on climate change at the UN, CCS will be needed to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in line with climate targets. However, in order for CCS to become an effective tool for climate policy, it is necessary to create new sites in Europe and around the world. This will be useful for gaining the necessary experience and reducing costs.

Norway is committed to reducing emissions by 50-55 percent in 2030 and is ready to contribute to the global development of CCS technologies. Over the decades, the development and operation of CO2 storage projects at the Sleipner and Snøhvit deposits have demonstrated the safe storage of carbon on the Norwegian continental shelf.

The total investment in Longship is estimated at NOK 17.1 billion. This applies to all three projects. Operating costs for 10 years are estimated at another NOK 8 billion or a total of NOK 25.1 billion (approximately USD 2.8 billion). The state share of these costs is estimated at NOK 16.8 billion.

The project of the oil and gas company BP under the name H2Teesside will be the most significant step in the development of the company's hydrogen business and will contribute to the goal set by the British government to establish production for hydrogen with a capacity of 5 GW in 2030.

Due to its close proximity to the CO2 storage site in the North Sea, the pipeline networks and the existing storage and distribution capabilities of the Teeside hydrogen in the north of England is a unique place for the project.

H2Teesside will integrate with the already planned regional projects for carbon capture and storage Net Zero Teesside (NZT) and Northern Endurance Partnership (NEP), two of which BP is the operator.

The final investment decision on the project should be made in early 2024.

Thanks to large-scale and low-cost production of pure hydrogen, H2Teesside can help the transition of neighboring industries use hydrogen instead of natural gas, playing an important role in decarbonizing the Teaside industry, the company said.

The intention is for the project to be implemented in stages. The initial stage with a capacity of 500 MW should work in 2027 or earlier, expanding further by 2030 depending on increased hydrogen demand. It is noteworthy that this project will provide 13,500 direct and indirect jobs.

Where is Bulgaria

Coal or natural gas with CCS is the cheapest way to produce low-carbon hydrogen. This will remain the lowest-priced option in regions where large quantities of affordable renewable electricity are not available for electrolysis that produces hydrogen and fossil fuel prices are low, according to the Global CCS Institute.

Carbon capture and storage systems complement renewable energy sources by helping to build a low-carbon network in the future that is sufficiently sustainable and reliable.

Globally, coal-fired power plants have a capacity of 2,000 GW, and the life of these plants does not presuppose their rapid decommissioning. Therefore, the only way is to re-equip them.

The most successful option is the Allam-Fetvedt cycle - an innovative technology for generating natural gas (or synthetic gas from coal gasification) with inherent CO2 capture. It involves burning oxygen and using CO2. This means built-in capture, compression and dehydration of CO2, as well as elimination of NOx and SOx81,82. This technology can produce electricity with more than 97% CO2 capture at a balanced cost of power, approximately 22% higher than today's conventional combined natural gas cycle. The price premium is expected to be below 10% by 2050. Projects in the US and New Zealand are available, the technologies are already commercialized and available on the market. Until recently, this was impossible.

Against this background, new options are opening in front of the power plants in the Mari basin and as it is clear from the ambitions stated by AES Bulgaria, these projects are already being worked on.

In his analysis recently, Andrei Novakov commented that the European Union allows investments in CO2 capture and storage systems. "We can use such a resource to capture and store / use carbon. "Projects must meet only two criteria: emissions of up to 250g CO2 / kWhe and comply with the Carbon Capture and Storage Directive," he said. These projects must be applied for directly to the European Investment Bank. . For this purpose, a thorough technical and financial analysis of the project must be submitted, which will be the basis for the evaluation by the Bank. Another plus is that we will be able to receive technical assistance for the development of the project.

Another financing option is the EU Innovation Fund, which also finances large-scale installations (investments over 7.5 million euros) for carbon capture, storage and use. It operates in the period 2020-2030 and has a budget of 10 billion euros. The first call for project proposals took place in October 2020, with over 300 projects submitted.

Of course, there are more possibilities. From instruments such as InvestEU, through a combination of funding from various European sources, as well as a combination of national, private and European funds, "said Novakov.

With good partnership of the three TPPs with the state and the European financial institutions, the Maritza East 3 complex can get a new vision. The three plants need to be retrofitted with CO2 capture and storage systems and expanded with RES capacity projects plus energy storage systems, a technology that AES has already achieved internationally.

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