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Carbon capture: One answer to climate change?

11-24-2011 14:08 BJT Special Report:Durban Climate Change Conference |

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Carbon capture and storage, or CCS, is believed to be one of the keys to averting global warming. China's Huaneng Group, the country's biggest power generator, has invested tens of millions of US dollars into this technology and to put in place a CCS facility in its coal-fired power plants.

The goal is to make burning fossil fuels a cleaner way of power generation. Liu Ying reports.

Recycling carbon dioxide from burning coal - a pioneering technology believed to be one keys to dealing with climate change.

The four-million-US dollar facility was developed by the Huaneng Group and is the first of its kind in China.

Zhang Lin, engineer of Huaneng Beijing Thermal Power Plant, said, "The gas we see now used to be directly released into the atmosphere from our chimneys. But now we recycle it in our capture systems before sending it to the refining unit for intensive processing. This is the final result - carbon dioxide with a purity rate of over 99 percent, which is in line with even the strictest food standards."

CCTV reporter Liu Ying said, "Through original carbon capture and storage technology, this thermal power facility of Huaneng Group can recycle three thousand tons of carbon dioxide a year from burning coal. The captured carbon dioxide has a wide range of market uses, such as in this bottle of coke to produce fizz."

Huaneng'sThermal Power Plant supplies a third of Beijing's heating and a tenth of its electricity. This makes it a big carbon emitter, releasing some five million tons of carbon dioxide each year.

The multi-million-dollar facility, a three-year-old demonstration project, has attracted great interest from around the world.

Marco Tulio Cabral, Environ. & Energy Section head of Embassy of Brazil, said, "Very interesting, important and promising technology because fossil fuels will remain fundamentally important for power generation for many years to come. So in order to make fossil fuels a sustainable technology, this is indispensible to find some sort of way to deal with the carbon dioxide that is produced and is the main cause of climate change."

Huaneng has invested over 18 million US dollars in its second carbon capture facility in its power plant in Shanghai. That facility is said to be the biggest of its kind in the world, recycling 120 thousand tons of carbon dioxide a year.

It's estimated the figure would be some 90 million tons if such facilities were installed in all of China's coal-fired power plants. But the expense means only big generators like Huaneng can afford it. And selling carbon dioxide is not very profitable.

Du Chengzhang, deputy GM of Huaneng Beijing Thermal Power Plant, said, "At present our recycling cost stands at more than 400 yuan for each ton of carbon dioxide. We sell it for some 500 yuan per ton. We can basically make both ends meet to support the long-term operation."

70 percent of energy consumption in China comes from burning coal. Industry insiders concede for now, the high cost of the carbon capture technology remains a stumbling block to mass application. But as the technology advances and costs come down, it's expected to provide a more viable solution in tackling climate change.


Editor:Liu Fang |Source: CNTV.CN

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