• Combustion Industry News

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Global CCS Institute releases 2013 CSS status report

The Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute released its Global Status of CCS 2013 report in late September. The picture it paints is mixed, but on the whole discouraging. Overall, the number of projects ‘on the drawing board’ across the world fell from 75 to 65, and of the $US 25 billion (€18.1 billion) promised for CCS projects by governments in total, around $US 8 billion is in the process of being removed. However, four additional projects became operational over the last year (when considering not just power generation but the steel, cement, chemical and refining industries), giving further demonstration of the technology’s performance – the total around the world is now 20 projects in operation. In Europe, no new CCS project has entered into operation since 2008, despite some policy incentives being in place. The only new planned projects in the world over the last year came from China, which has added seven over the last three years, and there is doubt about future new power generation CCS projects in the US after the recent carbon emissions rules for new plants. The report states: “Overall, public policy for CCS during the past five years has not succeeded in generating the necessary breadth and depth to the CCS demonstration effort necessary to allow it to play its full part in mitigating the predicted rise in global temperature”, and recommends stronger policy incentives. It also restates the central importance of deploying CCS in the effort to reduce carbon emissions worldwide, making the further point that for the steel and cement industries amongst others, there is little option to shift to non-carbon emitting technologies.

WHO classifies outdoor air pollution and particulates as human carcinogens

Mid-October saw the World Health Organisation formally classify both ‘outdoor air pollution’ and particulates (classified separately, although a component of outdoor air pollution) as human carcinogens (linked to lung cancer), with outdoor air pollution being described as more significant than passive smoking. It acknowledged that the composition of outdoor air pollution varies (and includes diesel engine exhaust, solvents, metals and dusts) but stated that the classification applies globally. The major sources were described as transportation, stationary power generation, industrial and agricultural emissions, and residential heating and cooking. Natural sources (such as bushfires) also contributed. The International Agency for Research on Cancer was quoted as saying “There are effective ways to reduce air pollution and, given the scale of the exposure affecting people worldwide, this report should send a strong signal to the international community to take action without further delay.” With fairly strict policies in place already for power generation in most developed nations, one concludes that the report has the developing world in mind.

Europe’s energy supply picture shifting

The Financial Times has carried an interesting review piece on the regional shifting of energy supply in Europe. Many Eastern European countries formerly part of the Soviet Bloc are still heavily dependent on Russia for supplies of gas, but a modernisation and reorientation effort is underway to decrease that reliance. The EU’s energy strategy is to diversify supply and improve transmission across countries, thereby improving security and avoiding spikes in prices, while creating a single energy market within its boundaries. Some of the impetus for change came from Gazprom’s 2006 and 2009 cut-offs of gas supply to Ukraine – although Gazprom is still seen as a reliable supplier, the cut-offs highlighted the vulnerability of Europe’s supply. This summer, a BP-led consortium chose its preferred route for a gas pipeline to transport gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe – it will run from Turkey, through Greece, and then under the Adriatic Sea to Italy. But Gazprom is competing and hitting back – it has been planning its own pipeline for the south of Europe, and in 2011, it opened the Nord Stream pipeline from Russia, under the Baltic Sea to Germany, aimed at bypassing the traditional intermediaries of Ukraine, Belarus and Poland. Meanwhile, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine are planning new shipping terminals so as to be able to receive LNG imports from the Middle East, and trans-national interconnector pipelines are being built across Central and Eastern Europe. Some countries, such as the UK, Poland and Ukraine, are welcoming shale-gas exploration, while other countries such as Bulgaria have followed France in shunning it. Renewables, too, are a strong element of the diversification, making a rather fascinating overall regional picture.

Mixed fortunes for manufacturing suppliers as a result of new US carbon rules

Reuters has carried an interesting opinion piece on how the recently released US carbon emissions rules for new-build fossil-fired power plants will affect manufacturing suppliers. With a move to more gas-fired plants, large gas turbine suppliers (such as General Electric and Siemens) are obvious candidates to benefit. But with an accompanying move towards renewables such as solar and wind, suppliers (such as Caterpillar and Wärtsilä) of small gas-fired reciprocating engines, which are favoured because of their efficiency at low capacity by renewables utilities to serve as back-ups during periods of low production, are also expected to benefit. Such ‘recips’ are also valued by small producers of methane gas, such as landfills and sewage treatment plants. However, as back-ups to renewables they may be made redundant by energy storage technology, if it becomes commercially viable.

Russia and India hold energy talks

Summit talks in Moscow between the leaders of Russia and India have led to an announcement that India’s state-owned oil and gas company, ONGC, is interested in working with Russian partners to explore for offshore oil and gas in Arctic waters. They are also to study the possibility of pumping oil and gas to India. The rather vague language indicates that there were no firm agreements on any specific projects, but an intention that energy ties should be strengthened. ONGC is already a partner in the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project in the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan, being led by Rosneft.

Chinese government to inspect air pollution control measures

Xinhua has reported on the Chinese government’s plan to conduct an inspection campaign of air pollution control measures in various areas over the next six months. Desulfurization, denitrification and dedusting facilities at industrial sites will be checked, as will emissions levels and the veracity of the replacement of coal-fired boilers. The inspections are designed to check enforcement of the national government’s Airborne Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan, which is designed to reduce the levels of PM 2.5 in the air by 10-25%, depending on the area. Companies found to have been breaking the rules will be shut down, while colluding government officials will be punished. In a rather novel move, representatives of the media have been invited to observe the inspections.

Spirax Sarco delivers heat exchanger to SSE’s Ferrybridge pilot CCS plant

In the UK, Spirax Sarco, in conjunction with Doosan Power Systems, has helped SSE’s Ferrybridge coal-fired power station in Yorkshire take a step towards completion as a pilot-scale CCS plant. Spirax Sarco delivered a steam-driven heat exchange package for the reboiling and regeneration of the amine solvent in the CO2 stripping column. The heat exchanger operates at high temperatures and must be precise, as the amine solvent breaks down with a temperature that is too high, and with a lower temperature, more energy is needed for regeneration. The plant will absorb up to 100 tonnes of CO2 per day.

Third unit returns to operation after two year outage at Sherco plant in Minnesota

The 860 MW third unit at Xcel Energy’s Sherburne County (Sherco) coal-fired power plant in Minnesota, USA, has resumed operation, after a two-year down period. A failure during restart after a maintenance outage had caused extensive damage to the turbine, generator and associated plant systems, resulting from a design fault which allowed extensive cracking of one row of turbine blades through stress corrosion. The repair bill came to around $US 200 million (€146 million), the work being extremely complex.