China has definitely taken the lead globally in its effort to mitigate the effects of climate change, just recently beginning construction of the first of eight large-scale carbon capture and storage projects.
Just two weeks ago, Digital Journal featured the world’s first commercial carbon capture and storage (CCS) plant opened in Zurich, Switzerland with the goal of selling compressed CO2 gas to industry, basically re-purposing the gas. China’s first CCS project was started by state-owned Yanchang Petroleum, reports AFR Weekend. The facility will capture CO2 emissions from a coal-to-gas petrochemical plant near the western Chinese city of Xi’an. Once it is operational, the plant will capture 800,000 tons of CO2 annually, or the equivalent of taking 80,000 cars off the highway for a year. The world-renowned Melbourne, Australia-based Global CCS Institute, a non-profit organization that provides technical and advisory support for CCS projects around the world, helped in getting the project initiated as part of China’s 2015 deal with the U. S. to combat climate change. “It’s one of eight large-scale CCS projects — in varying stages of evaluation and subject to approval — that China is considering, ” said Tony Zhang, a senior adviser at the Institute. China’s new CCS project will remove CO2 from two coal gasification (syngas) plants and re-inject the gas into previously exhausted oil fields. This process will allow for the pumping of previously uneconomical and old oil wells. The process is called “enhanced oil recovery.” The seven additional projects include coal-fired power plants, fertilizer plants, and a chemical production facility. According to the Global CCS Institute, there are 16 large-scale CCS facilities operating around the world with an additional five plants that will be operational within the next 12 to 18 months. It has taken more than a decade to get countries on board with using the technology behind CCS as a means of mitigating climate change, but finally, the technology is gaining momentum. Two-thirds of the 16 CCS projects are located in North America and four of the five new projects are based in either Canada or the United States, reports Bloomberg. International Energy Agency (IEA) analyst Samantha McCulloch said in a presentation in Beijing that CCS “is an important set of technologies for reducing emissions from fossil fuel use, while enabling important resources such as coal to continue to contribute to energy security and economic objectives.”So why aren’t more CCS facilities being constructed in the world today? It comes down to money. Investors are hesitant to invest in a technology that won’t show them immediate gains, plus there aren’t enough business cases to evaluate the investment properly. But like the dawn of the renewable energy revolution, there were questions unanswered and skepticism in investing in a new technology. And look at where the world is now with renewable energy – With research, new innovations in technology have brought the cost of solar and wind energy down to very affordable levels and created a whole new industry that is growing by leaps and bounds around the world. And carbon capture and storage technology will follow the same path.