Characterisation of the field
Most forecasts predict that fossil fuels will continue to play a major role in meeting global energy demand up to, and beyond, 2050, comprising as much as 50 of energy needs. As well as coal, oil and gas, this is likely to include increasing production from unconventional sources such as tar sands, coal-bed methane and coal-to-liquid. In this context, carbon capture and storage (CCS) is potentially a key global technology for mitigating emissions of CO2 - the IPCC estimate that application of CCS worldwide could halve new CO2 emissions (IPCC, 2005). In the 2006 IEA World Energy Outlook (Beyond Alternative Policy), CCS is a requirement to remove about 20 of CO2 emissions, even if nuclear and renewables generation double. CCS deployment in the UK, at demonstration and early commercial stages, could provide working examples of technology, projects, regulatory and financial systems for other parts of the world, while also helping to meet national policy targets for UK CO2 emission reductions. In addition to reduced emissions from power stations, CCS could also contribute to reducing transport sector emissions, via electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles.
Rather than a single technology, CCS spans a series of technologies which enable the capture of CO2 from fossil fuels, transport of liquefied CO2, and its storage in the deep geological subsurface. There are a number of sub-fields or alternative pathways within this, including post- combustion capture, pre-combustion capture, oxyfuel capture, compression, transport, geological injection to aquifers, enhanced oil recovery, monitoring requirements to assure good site performance, and insurance requirements to enable developers to operate.
BERR are operating a competition within the UK, which will provide pubic funds to build the UK s first integrated coal combustion, capture, transport and storage system, to operate before end 2014.
Capture is the most expensive stage of the CCS chain, and substantial research efforts are being undertaken to reduce its energy penalty and associated costs. Of three possible capture methods, post combustion capture (‘scrubbing’) is the most mature, and is routinely used for flue gas separation in the petrochemicals industry or urea manufacture. The solvents need adaptation to resist the impure gases from power plants, and the equipment needs scaling-up by a factor of 10. This can be retrofitted, and is the option favoured within the UK BERR competition. Pre-combustion capture is technically elegant, and potentially a low-cost method of CO2 separation integrated with fuel gasification and large scale hydrogen production on new plant. Pre-combustion separation is mature in petrochemical plants, although there is less experience of flowing process-integration with gasification. Oxyfuel capture is the least mature method, and is under development at large laboratory scale, for commercialisation by 2015. Oxyfuel burners could be retrofitted to enable concentrated CO2 combustion gases to be efficiently separated. Cheaper separation of oxygen from air is required.
Transport of large quantities of CO2 by pipeline is well established in the US (onshore). North Sea industries routinely use oil and and gas pipes offshore, but only the Norwegian Snhovit field has an offshore CO2 pipe since 1996, but a number of research challenges remain.
Geological injection offshore is proven only by the local Utsira experiment. Although enhanced oil recovery (EOR) with CO2 is well established onshore in the US and elsewhere, several evaluations offshore have failed on cost. The injectivity rate and total volume of aquifers remains a significant unknown, as does the seal performance of mudrocks. Better evaluation methods are needed, with operational technology for CO2 imaging and leak detection and cement remediation.
Key questions for the UK are the prediction and discovery of costs, the subsurface monitoring of injection and CO2 position, prediction and detection of leakage for the time spans involved the ability to provide public acceptability.
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Table 2.1: UK Capabilities
The UK has no direct experience of carbon dioxide capture, but has a long experience of making boiler and turbine systems components for power stations with some UK companies and subsidiaries of trans-national companies. There is therefore a wide and deep experience base which is adapting improving combustion and power plant efficiency and to clean coal technologies. The Technology Ownership is not always strong in the UK, inventions and developments have been sold. There is a wide spectrum of innovative Original Equipment Manufacturers, at different component sizes. It is uncertain if the UK still retains all the capability to make a complete coal or gas plant domestically.
In simple terms, the UK is strong on supercritical coal and (potentially) ultrasupercritical coal plant. Gasifier technology is owned by US and oil companies - although opportunities exist by transfer of skills from UK chemical industry. Membranes and Air Separation could be developed from a very strong university base of Materials and Chemical Engineering - there is a weak link to the established and dominant USA, French and German manufacturers - so that new Developments would need strong support to avoid being purchased.
The UK is very strong on subsurface evaluation and geo-engineering technologies because of the North Sea developments.
Likewise UK expertise in the whole supply chain of design, fabrication and installation of offshore equipment is uniquely strong. There are large companies and SMEs to fill many niches.
Financing, design and management of power and offshore projects are areas where the UK is perceived to be strong. The City of London is a major world centre for this. Carbon trading, relevant to EU-ETS, CDM and JIP, is undertaken through London markets.
Table 2.1: UK Capabilities
Table 3.1: Research Funding | Table 3.2: Key Research Providers
World-class research on CCS has been undertaken since the 1990’s by the British Geological Survey, funded by the NERC, by a series of EU Programmes, and by industry. The BGS has tended to focus on transport and geological storage, and is very strongly involved in EU and worldwide networks. Existing staff are over-committed with the BERR competition, and increased capacity may be necessary.
BERR (formerly DTI) has funded a series of studies emerging from its coal technology and clean coal programmes - now in Energy sources/Sustainable technologies, operated by Technology Strategy Board. These are by a variety of contractors, often including AEA Energy and Environment (formerly FES), on all aspects of CCS - with extensive compilation of power plant data, evaluation or transport technical risks and markets. This has been less detailed on the geological aspects. Plymouth Marine Laboratory is the only (NERC-funded) institute to focus on ocean impacts of CCS at present, in the context of their basic work on shallow seas.
UK Universities have significantly coordinated CCS activity since 2004, enabled by the TSEC programme funded by NERC, EPSRC and ESRC; the UKCCSC coordinates that research activity of 14 Universities and institutes, and this is by far the largest virtual cluster of UK research activity. There is no training capacity specifically directed to CCS, but individual academics with UKCCSC have related PhD students. The Scottish Funding Council has enabled creation of a University Centre for CCS at Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt; this group has world-class expertise in subsurface geology and geophysics evaluation, geo-engineering and EOR, and forms the UK’s largest physical cluster for that speciality. Nottingham has formed an institute for novel carbon capture technologies, partly be grouping existing staff and new recruitment. Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt are currently forming a new Centre of carbon Capture, by grouping existing staff and 12 new recruitments. UKERC has experience of monitoring CCS developments, cross-compared to other energy technologies.
A large amount of “capable” research is undertaken within conventional within science and engineering, but not badged as carbon capture or storage. This is especially within earth and environmental sciences, as well as general and chemical engineering. Management and business studies dominate among the humanities, with Tyndall (Manchester) and Bath hosting large research groups. Social science contributions are diffuse. There are also a small number of mathematicians and statisticians engaged in research in the area.
Data in 2006 was solicited by e-mail to individual academics within the UKCCSC. This has been up-dated in 2007 via a new round of e-mail solicitation. The coverage has been improved somewhat - not least with regard to capture-related research. This reflects a broader range of methods used for identifying researchers - mainly a news flow in national public and technical media, but also a search of EPSRC-funded projects, as well as information passed on through UKERC and UKCCSC networks during the year. Replies from 2006 have been retained in those cases where we received no 2007 reply (denoted with a * in table 3.2).
The reliance on self-reported data tends to give an over-estimate of people involved in CCS research. This is due to the difficulty is assigning part-time effort, and to some duplication of reporting so that an individual may be double counted within, say, UKERC and University. A search of academic web-sites for CCS activity would yield much lower numbers of personnel involved, in many cases zero for individual institutions. This tends to give an under-estimate, due to the perennial problems of up-dating web information.
Table 3.1: Research Funding
Table 3.2: Key Research Providers
Table 4.1: Research Funding | Table 4.2: Key Research Providers
Applied research is provided by a range of consultancy companies and organisations with expertise in the sectors of technology appraisal, environment, or geoscience. Major trans-national companies have some very significant research and technology teams, some of this could be considered as being based in the UK and these will sometimes participate in, or be co-funded by, publicly-funded projects, especially from DTI/BERR/TSB.
BERR and the IEA GHG programme have also been key strategic funders. Substantial activity is occurring in other countries’ national laboratories and research organisations. Regional development agencies, Scottish Enterprise, and ITI Scotland have funded evaluations which are perceived to have potential value for their position, but have no known long-term strategy for CCS. NGOs, the Carbon Trust, the Sustainable Development Commission etc, have frequently mentioned CCS as one of many low carbon options but there is no focused campaign to evaluate and provide new information.
Energy Technology Institute plans to identify CCS as one of 5 focus areas from 2008.
Company responses cover the “core” CCS industries of electricity generators and oil and gas. Manufacturing companies are included in the role of suppliers to the core industries. Related service industries include legal firms, and consultants - mainly in engineering.
Potential research providers were identified from membership of the CCS trade association in early May 2006 (CCSA), and from attendance at CCS-related meetings, and contacted by email. In those cases where we have not received new replies in 2007, last year’s data is marked with an *.
Our coverage may be low. Compare approximately 10 identified providers of applied research with the approximately 50 members of CCSA. However, it is true that not all CCSA members do conduct any applied research. Some companies who do undertake research into CCS may also have chosen not to supply information for commercial reasons. The data relating to EU projects in section 8 suggest that more companies are involved in research than those listed here.
IEA GHG is excluded, as this is not UK-national, although it is based in the UK. IEA GHG is also covered in section 9.
Table 4.1: Research Funding
Table 4.2: Key Research Providers
Table 5.1: Demonstration Funding Programmes | Table 5.2: Major Demonstration Projects
Demonstration funding has been allocated by the BERR, as part of its CAT strategy. This was initially £25m, and was then increased by the Chancellor to £35m in a pre-budget statement 2005. This is small compared to 1) the £100m minimum requested by the BERR advisory board, and 2) the cost of a gas or IGCC power station of £400-1,500m, and 3) the USA FutureGen initiative of $1,500m. As part of the BERR CCS competition, Government has indicated that it intends to pay for the costs of adding capture (whilst the technology is developed), but not the whole cost of the plants. BERR will also underwrite the price difference of Demonstration CCS electricity and the EU-ETS price. This is estimated to be £300-500M Capex and unknown Opex.
The UK-China collaboration is a growing area for UK CCS researchers and much of this activity is currently managed by DEFRA, with £3.5M NZEC funding. There could also be scope to greatly increase this, and include a larger and specific element of capacity building and UK training of Chinese students in UK Universities.
Many more demonstration plans have been announced in 2007-08. Many companies have now declared that they are planning CCS investments. This increased level of publicly declared interest is likely, at least in part, a result of the government competition.
No large investment decision has yet been made though. An experimental 1MW post-combustion capture plant at Aberthaw will be independently built by RWE npower.
Progressive Energy/Centrica are funding investigating development of a pre-combustion IGCC with CCS by 2012.
Global Energy has stated it wishes to re-open the Westfield gasifier as an IGCC with CCS in 2008 but needs funding.
It seems that it will take at least 2012 until the first full CCS systems up and running in the UK.
Pre-combustion dominates, and there are as yet no plans for a UK oxyfuel plant.
The desk-study plans for CO2 gathering and transport networks in Tees-side, Yorkshire, Mersey basin, and Scotland may have coordinating and catalyzing effects on capture and storage investments in those regions.
All projects listed in Table 5.2 depend on some type of funding contribution from the Government, and have been identified from news published during 2007 / 2008.
Table 5.1: Demonstration Funding Programmes
Table 5.2: Major Demonstration Projects
Table 6.1: Research Facilities and Assets
Many organisations and universities have general facilities relating to energy, science or technology studies, which can be adapted to use for CCS work, but there are as yet only a few UK research facilities dedicated to CCS.
Table 6.1: Research Facilities and Assets
Table 7.1: Networks
Networks is here taken to mean only groupings with explicit and formal memberships. This excludes collaborative projects organised in other ways. For example, the Yorkshire-Forward-driven plan to establish a transport network, mentioned in section 5, which is supported by a distinct set of companies, but does not involve a membership as such. Research projects supported by groups of companies are not seen as more formal networks.
This covers networks in the UK only. There is substantial international activity on generic (and some UK) problems, funded and reported through networks listed in sections 8 and 9. Because of the cross-border nature of atmospheric CO2, and the generic similarity of capture technologies, and the nature of storage localities in the subsurface, the geographic locale of the network is not critical. International exchange is expected by Demonstration plants gaining EU support.
The Trade Association CCSA was formed early in2006, and focuses much industry expertise, but not yet onto projects. The UK Offshore Operators Association is also an important trade association in relation to CCS. Renew Tees Valley is a local collaboration in the Tees Valley between councils, but also involving companies in the area. The only academic network specific to the UK is the UKCCSC, and this arises only from the focus of a TSEC project funded by NERC.
Table 7.1: Networks
Table 8.1: EU Framework Programmes
Much work in the EU is undertaken by national organisations, such as Surveys, Research Institutes or Research laboratories. The UK has few of these. However, the UK participates in many EU networks. These are addressing generic trans-national problems of combustion technology, transport, and geological storage.
Table 8.1: EU Framework Programmes
Table 9.1: International Activities
The UK is involved in many of the key international activities. This is by participation of major industry players (e.g. BP led the Carbon Capture project), or by very active Government membership (e.g. BERR within CSLF). The IEA Greenhouse Gas Programme has commissioned a series of reports and formed networks covering all aspects of CCS from power stations, to transport costs, worldwide storage, and geological aspects. There is substantial international activity on generic(and some UK) problems, funded and reported through world networks. The UK has also signed bilateral understandings on CCS with Norway and with China. Key research leaders internationally are perceived to be: Norway, Canada, Australia, and USA. Very few (if any) of these have significant involvement by UK Universities. A difference between the USA and rest of the world is the duality of funding to Federal laboratories and projects, together with Regional Partnerships of states to investigate CCS.
Table 9.1 includes international activities with UK involvement.
Table 9.1: International Activities