China Embarks on Carbon Capture
In a world of big carbon footprints, China reportedly has the biggest one. And it will be a while before the country can do much to change that fact. Indeed, despite its impressive nuclear and renewable energy growth rates, about 75 percent of China’s electricity still comes from coal-fired power plants. But the country is hoping to get into the carbon capture and sequestration (C.C.S.) business – at least in a small way.
By 2009, it plans to open a $1 billion power plant at Tianjin called GreenGen, a joint venture whose owners include several Chinese government-owned businesses and U.S. coal giant Peabody Energy. The plant will capture the majority of its emissions for storage underground. Plans call for an initial 250 megawatts of capacity, expanded to 650 MW during later phases.
In January, a more modest effort was announced by Hong Kong-listed Enviro Energy International Holdings, Ltd. and Canada’s Petromin Resources, Ltd. The two signed a deal with China United Coalbed Methane Corp. for a five-year project in the northern Shanxi Province. The $1.39 million project will involve drilling wells in a coalbed that is about 3,300 feet below the surface and unsuitable for commercial mining. It will try to capture carbon dioxide from power and chemical plants and inject the gas into the deep coalbed as part of an effort to increase natural gas production.
Also in January, China and Norway signed a Framework Agreement on Cooperation and Dialogue on Climate Change, which covers areas such as the purchase of emission units, C.C.S. renewable energy, and adaptation to climate change. And last November, the E.U. and China launched the first phase of their joint Near Zero Emissions Coal study, which will look into the feasibility of building coal-fired power plants fitted with carbon dioxide capture and storage facilities. Possible sites for regional carbon dioxide storage are now being researched. The two sides will go on to select appropriate power stations based on suitable sequestration locations.
Also, a 2005 effort launched by China and the U.K., which followed the Sino-E.U. Declaration on Climate Change, calls for a joint development program on C.C.S. technologies. Based on the declaration, the E.U. will offer China the technology to build a coal-fired power plant equipped with C.C.S.