• Combustion Industry News

    Date posted:

    • Post Author

      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

UK reports stress cost-efficiency in sharing carbon transport and storage infrastructure

Two reports from the UK have pointed to the cost-effectiveness of coordinating industry to share transport and storage schemes for captured carbon. Integrating industry to enable the sharing, somewhat reminiscent of stormwater or sewer networks, will make CCS more affordable by spreading the costs of the transport and storage infrastructure. This will require planning to cluster industry, but also to arrange for the first movers, such as the two CCS-equipped projects in England being part-funded by the UK government, to build infrastructure in a way that enables other industrial sites that integrate carbon capture to connect into it in future years. One of the reports, by the Green Alliance,  estimated that costs for one particular site, the Humber area of Yorkshire, where the White Rose power station is being equipped with CCS, would fall by two-thirds per tonne of carbon if several industries used the one transport and storage infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change is to provide £4.2 million ($US 6.4 million, €5.9 million) to Summit Power Group for research and feasibility work for its proposed Caledonia Clean Energy Project, a 570 MW CCS-equipped coal gasification power plant to be built in Grangemouth, Scotland. A condition of the funding will be that findings will be shared with industry and academia.

Russian gas sector looks for new markets to overcome ‘perfect storm’

A new report by Cedigaz, the international association for natural gas, has described the ‘perfect storm’ confronting the Russian gas production sector, and predicted that the Russian government’s actions over the next decade will be crucial for the long-term future of the industry in Russia. New production capacity, limp domestic and foreign demand, low gas prices and economic sanctions have combined to create a situation of oversupply in the country. The solution will be to construct new pipelines to tap new markets, and the speed and efficiency with which this is done with support from the State will be the measure of the effectiveness of the response to the current problems. A deal already made with China will improve the situation after 2024, as long as transportation infrastructure is built, and a new pipeline is also needed to Turkey to open up new markets in Western Asia. Export to Europe is predicted neither to decline nor increase significantly, but to the CIS countries export is not expected to revive, after their halving since a peak in 2006. Overall, the Cedigaz report suggests that export forecasts for 2030 should revised downwards from 400bn cm/yr to 275bn cm/yr, though they will remain the highest in the world. The authors state “We do not expect any radical market liberalisation and the industry will likely remain under close state monitoring.”

US federal judges indicate they will not be able to rule on draft Clean Power Plan regulations

In the USA, federal judges have cast doubt on a challenge to the Obama administration’s proposed regulations limiting greenhouse gases from power plants on the grounds that the regulations are not yet finalised. A case has been brought by a coalition of US states and Murray Energy Corp arguing that the administration’s Clean Power Plan, which would set a target of a 30% reduction from 2005 levels of carbon emissions from the US power sector, would impose exorbitant costs on utilities. Two of the three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit have indicated that it would be unreasonable to judge the rules before they are set, with one saying “We could guess what the final rule looks like, but we’re not usually in the business of guessing.” The plans are expected to be finalised in the northern hemisphere summer.

New Finnish president favours wood-firing

In brief news related to the wood-firing sector, Finland has recently elected a new president, Juha Sipila, who Reuters reports has placed an emphasis on wood-based renewable energy production. Mr Sipila is from the north of the country, where forests abound, and as a businessman had a company that built a wood chip plant that had some form of power generation associated with it.

Chinese mobile phone app allows citizens to track industrial pollution breaches

An interesting report by Reuters has drawn attention to an innovative new mobile phone app in use in China aimed at allowing citizens to monitor air and water pollution by power plants and factories. The Chinese government has granted access to real-time data that it collects from industrial sites for use by the app, so that citizens can observe, on an hourly basis, when discharge limits are being breached. Users can also tag violations and post them on the social media accounts of local environmental protection agencies. In the case of certain factories, consumer pressure on companies such as Apple and Gap, using the factories as suppliers, has led to the supply contracts being threatened unless environmental performance is improved. The developers of the app, the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, the director of which is noted environmentalist Ma Jun, claim that 1800 factories and 120 international firms have taken action to improve environmental performance as a result of the app. The access to the data illustrates the Chinese government’s commitment to address the huge environmental concerns of its populace, while Ma says that the app is designed to help China transform its economy.

Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions higher with no nuclear power generation

Japan’s annual CO2 output was the second highest in its history between April 2013 and March 2014, according to newly revised government figures. The 1.408 billion tonnes of CO2 (up 1.2% from 2012-13) is second to the 1.412 tonnes recorded in 2007, just before the global financial crisis. The high levels are due to the switch to greater coal firing since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, after which all nuclear power plants in the country were shut down. Japanese emissions are now 10.8% higher than in 1990 and 0.8% higher than 2005, in contrast to the government’s target of cutting emissions by 3.8% of 2005 levels by 2020.

ClearSign secure contracts for new low-NOx technology

Seattle-based ClearSign have secured three promising contracts in the first quarter of the year, as refiners and once-through steam generator operators look to reduce their NOx emissions cost effectively. Tricor Refining, Aera Energy and a third refining company have all engaged ClearSign to install its Duplex™ technology, a novel porous ceramic tile system installed several metres from the fuel and air injection points in boilers/steamers utilising low-NOx burners. The technology reduces flame length, increases thermal efficiency through better radiation and improved heat distribution, and at the same time further reduces NOx formation. The technology is also appealing in its being simple to retrofit and in the reduction it can provide in maintenance costs and down time due to the lowering of the flame length. (An explanatory video of the technology is here, while a video of it applied is here.) The three contracts are all for Californian clients looking to meet strict NOx emissions limits – in all cases at or below 5 ppm (at 3% O2), and ClearSign has demonstrated it can meet sub-5 ppm concentrations without the use of downstream selective catalytic reduction or selective non-catalytic reduction, meaning substantial cost savings. Duplex™ is one of two major technologies being developed by the company, which was established in 2008 and holds over 200 patents, the other being electrodynamic combustion control, which is currently at an earlier stage of development. In an interview with the IFRF’s Patrick Lavery, Dr Roberto Ruiz, Sr. Vice-President of Product Development, stated that ClearSign is targeting steam generators and refiners for its Duplex™ technology.

Eskom power outages deepen South Africa’s electricity problems

In what is coming to be a regular feature of the Combustion Industry News, South African utility Eskom has suffered another blow – this time in huge unplanned outages affecting 9,500 MW of generation capacity. The outages are the result of the company’s gamble – faced with little capacity margin – to run its plants with reduced or no maintenance while new plants were being built, then catching up on maintenance on the older plants while the new plants were running. The gamble has failed because of delays in the construction of new plants, meaning that, although maintenance was reintroduced on the old plants (causing some planned outages amounting to around 5,000 MW), the missed maintenance has led to the present unplanned outages. With both planned and unplanned outages, Eskom is missing around a third of its 42,000 MW installed capacity, and the company is unsure how long the current unplanned outages will continue – though 1,200 MW have been restored already. Nevertheless, it seems South Africans will have to cope with chronic power shortages and intermittent supply for at least some months to come. Industry, such as steelmaker ArcelorMittal, is operating with reduced power supply. Earlier in the month, Eskom agreed to rehire 1,700 construction workers sacked after a strike at the Medupi power plant, the first 800 MW unit of which is scheduled to be running by July.

Australia’s AGL Energy adopts no new conventional coal power stations policy

Australia’s second largest utility, AGL Energy, has announced that it will not build, finance or buy any further conventional coal-fired power plants, and will close all its conventional plants by 2050. The update to its greenhouse gas policy leaves the door open to carbon capture and storage-enabled plants, meaning the move is not a signal the company expects coal-firing to die out, contrary to some reactions in the media. The company has also said that it will factor in the cost of carbon to any future costing projections, despite the fact that the current Australian government has rescinded the previous government’s carbon price. AGL supplies electricity to four million Australians.