CCS and Government funding for innovation

The UK Government has announced that it will provide GBP100m ($160m) for FEED work on two Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects, which by 2015 will be submitted for review in a GBP1Bn commercialization competition, which will lead to support for the design and construction of commercial scale CCS. The two initial projects supported are at the Peterhead natural gas driven CCGT power station, in Scotland, and at the Drax solid fuel power station, in England.

Peterhead CCGT CCS Project

All initial press coverage was devoted to the Scottish investment, as the London-based UK Government is trying to show how they support Scotland, in the face of a possible Scottish devolution vote in September. Here Shell and Scottish and Southern Electricity plan to capture up to 10m tonnes of CO2 over 10 years, ie over 85% of the CO2 emissions, and transport this by pipeline offshore to the depleted Goldeneye gas reservoir, 100km away under the North Sea. The gas could then potentially be used for enhanced oil recovery projects in other North Sea oil wells. The CO2 capture process here is based on the use of amine solvents to treat the exhaust gases.

White Rose CCS Project

The second FEED project financed is the White Rose CCS Project, run by Capture Power Ltd, a consortium of Alstom, Drax Power and BOC. The project will involve the creation of a new oxy-fuel combustion plant, where coal is burnt in pure oxygen to produce a stream of 2m tonnes a year of pure CO2: it would be based at Drax power station, which is a coal and biomass fuelled plant, located inland at Selby, Yorkshire. A new 17m tonnes pa pipeline by the Yorkshire Humber CCS Trunkline would transport the gas to storage offshorein saline aquifers – this is being developed by National Grid Carbon Ltd, and would serve a cluster of CCS plants around the Humber estuary.

Other CCS Projects by Shell

Shell is already participating in a number of CCS projects worldwide including the largest CO2 capture demonstration facility in the world, the European CO2 Technology Centre in Mongstad, Norway.  In January 2013, Cansolv Technologies Inc (a Shell group company), working in partnership with RWE npower, successfully captured the first tonne of CO2 at the Aberthaw Power Station in South Wales, the world’s first integrated sulphur dioxide and CO2 capture plant. Cansolv Technologies is also providing the CO2 capture technology for the SaskPower Boundary Dam project. This C$1.35Bn development will see the integration of a rebuilt coal-fired 110MW power generation unit with carbon capture technology. The facility will be fully commercial by the summer of 2014, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1m tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per annum. Also in Canada, Shell announced plans in 2012 to progress with the Quest CCS project.

Different approaches between the UK and USA over funding

In the UK, the Government-funded Technology Strategy Board suggests which areas of technology and innovation should receive encouragement: for each identified major subject area, a ‘Knowledge Transfer Network’ is established, to facilitate the relevant UK innovation communities of manufacturers, users and researchers to connect, collaborate and find out about new opportunities in key research and technology sectors. Priority areas are established where seed funding is made available to promote further projects. Typical relevant areas are advanced materials; the digital economy; high value manufacturing; energy and greenhouse gases; electronics, sensors and photonics.  The EU runs similar schemes, for example on robots, and Carbon capture/storage (CCS).

Last Month the INSIDER reported on a visit by President Obama to Vacon Drives in North Carolina, where he started the second manufacturing innovation hub, concentrating on energy efficient electronic systems. In another presentation he has announced that four new US hubs are planned this year. A hub in Detroit, Michigan will concentrate on advanced lightweight materials, and a major hub in Chicago, started with $70m of Dept of Defense funding, but supplemented by $250m of State and private funding, will concentrate on ‘Digital Manufacturing design and Innovation’ taking advantage of digital technology and data management. This already involves 40 companies, 23 Universities and 200 small businesses. Obama believes Germany has over 60 such hubs, which develop the ideas, then the production, and then train the workers: so why should the USA not learn from this model, to re-invigorate US manufacturing industry? Obama hopes that Congress will follow his lead.

 

 

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