Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): A Distant
[R V Shahi's Weekly Column for
Infraline, January 28, 2008]
In the wake of
India's highly optimistic energy development programmes and plans to
substantially enhance the level of per capita energy (including electricity)
consumption, the global attention on India's energy linked activities has
increased. Notwithstanding the fact that the per capita emission of
carbondioxide, which is only slightly above one tonne in India as compared to 4
tonnes global average, 19 tonnes in U.S.A and more than 10 tonnes in U.K, since
in the next 20 to 25 years the energy generation growth in India is targeted to
be around 9%, to ensure that the targeted economic growth rate is achieved, it
is natural that such massive expansions entailing also massive increase in CO2
emission is viewed with seriousness and concern. The associated aspect,
however, is the national compulsion, keeping in view the Millennium Development
Goal, to enhance the level of energy consumption for people below poverty line
and also for those in rural areas as well as in urban areas who may be above BPL
but their standard of living is inadequate. The objectives of rapid
development and of mitigating climate change concerns have both to be
concurrently pursued - a highly challenging task for countries like India. To a
great extent these objectives are highly conflicting in nature - pursuing one
increases CO2 emission, while pursuing another, constraints the
process of development and leads to continuing poverty of several million people
in India (almost 300 million people below poverty line). The Integrated Energy
Policy which was formulated in 2006 projects a 9% growth and it also assumes
that the major portion of the capacity addition will have to come through the
route of coal based power generation.
association with Planning Commission, Govt. of India, Department of Science and
Technology, Govt. of India, Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,
U.K. and British High Commission in Delhi organized on 22 - 23rd
January, 2008, an International Workshop on "Carbon Capture and Storage in the
Power Sector : R&D Priorities for India" at Delhi. I had the occasion to chair
the plenary session on Carbondioxide Storage. In this session, we had four
eminent speakers presenting very well researched papers - Dr. Michel Nindre from
the Bureau of Research in Geology and Mines (France), Dr. Sam Holloway from the
British Geological Survey and a close associate on the IPCC special report on
Carbondioxide Capture and Storage, Dr. Balesh Kumar from the National Geological
Research Institute, Hyderabad and Dr. Gautam Mukhopadhayay, Deputy Director
General of the Geological Survey of India.
In my opening
remarks, I made the following brief observations :
per long term Integrated Energy Policy, India must target to increase its
generation capacity to about 800 GW in next 25 years by 2032 if it has to bring
the living standards level of people even at par with China (as at present) and
such other countries. In spite of maximum efforts to develop generation
capacity by exploiting fully the hydro potentials, substantial capacity addition
through nuclear route in this time frame and creating as much as possible
capacities through non conventional routes of generation, inevitability of coal
as the main fuel for major proportion of capacity addition may have to continue.
framework convention treaty on climate change provided for "common but
differentiated responsibility." India does not have a targeted reduction
To compare the
CO2 emission level in different countries the only
reliable parameter would be per capita emission rather than absolute amount of
emission, though sometimes many analysts try to present the absolute values.
India has not
been able to even provide electricity connectivity to almost 56% of its
rural population. We must recognize that 70% of India lives in villages.
Indian Govt. is committed for an inclusive growth, which only means that
rural population should also have the benefits of modern amenities, none of
which will be possible without reaching them energy and electricity.
In the last five years, several global
initiatives have been launched to tackle the problems relating to climate
change. India has taken very active participation in all these initiatives.
In June 2003 when the Govt. of U.S.A came out with the initiative of
Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF). India was one of the 16 nations
of the world to have participated in drafting of the Charter and to have signed
personally involved in the drafting of this Charter. I recall that in
the objective of the Charter as originally drafted there was a provision
relating to "Development and Deployment" of new technologies. We had
considerable amount of discussion on this issue. India and many other
countries were of the view that since these are R&D efforts and they are
going to take long time to be developed and particularly to be cost
effective, it may not be in order to stipulate "Deployment" at this
stage. Accordingly, the word "Deployment" was dropped in the final
during the period June 2003 to January 2007, I was a Member on the
Policy Group of CSLF and we had several rounds of meetings at different
places. This initiative has indeed brought into focus the need for Research and
Development on this subject.
CSLF also constituted Technical Group to identify research projects to be
undertaken by different countries either on their own or in collaboration with
other countries. Technical Group has been doing exceedingly good work and
monitoring the progress. One of the co-chairmen on the Technical Group is from
India. Two Indian projects have also been identified to be done in
collaboration with others.
chaired a sub-group on part financing of research projects, I made
presentations at least in three meetings but it appeared that financial
support for pursuing these projects was somewhat difficult. I wish the
participating countries had a better and a more positive view on
financing, in which case CSLF initiative could have yielded much better outcomes.
International Partnership for Hydrogen Economy was launched in November,
2003. India has not only been one of the founding members but has been
actively participating in the activities of this partnership.
been an active member on the Methane to Market Partnership Initiative,
which was launched in November, 2004.
important and powerful initiative on this issue has been the Zero
Emission Future Zen Project of 275 MW started by the U.S.A Government.
When invited, India was the first to have agreed to participate and to
contribute to the proposed Fund for development of this project. Accordingly I,
as Secretary (Power) had the privilege to be a Member on the Steering Group of
the Future Zen initiative. I also had the privilege of signing the Agreement
with the Govt. of United States in April, 2006. Subsequently the first meeting
of the Steering Group held toward the end of 2006, which I attended, formulated
The Govt. of India has also been an
active member on the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development
Thus, it can be seen that the concern of the Govt. of India to work towards
cleaner environment by reducing CO2 emission is adequately reflected
by the sincere efforts that it has been making through various global
initiatives as also through a number of actions which have been initiated within
the country, some of which are outlined below:
India has enormous potential of the order of 150,000 MW of hydro electric
power projects. We have hardly harnessed 35,000 MW (about 23% of the total).
The long term policy is to fully exploit these potentials over next 20 to 25
years. The seriousness of the concern is adequately reflected by the fact that
in the current Five Year Plan alone about 15,000 MW will be added.
beginning of the 10th Five Year Plan, to further
accelerate the Micro and Mini Hydro Project development it was decided that
projects of capacities up to 25 MW (as per earlier policy - 3 MW) will be
treated as Mini Hydel Project and therefore they will qualify for benefits and
concessions provided by Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources. This
initiative has led to a large number of private developers implementing these
Govt. took-up the matter in various debates and discussions in global fora - I was personally involved in a number of these discussions - to
bring home the point that all hydro electric projects, irrespective of the size
and capacity, should be treated as renewable. For the first time the World
Energy Council in their Annual Energy Statement in 2004 recognized this and
accordingly expressed about the renewable nature of hydro projects. Slowly this
proposition is getting accepted and recognized.
recent years, Govt. of India has stressed the need for accelerating the
pace of generation capacity through non conventional sources of energy.
In the total generation mix, about 8% is accounted for by the non
conventional sources. If we add - and there is no reason why we should
not add - hydro electric capacity, the overall percentage would workout
to more than 30% of the installed capacity from renewable sources.
current Five Year Plan (2007-12) there are programmes of the Ministry of
New and Renewable Energy to add more than 10,000 MW which would mean
doubling of their capacity within one Plan period of five years.
The National Electricity Policy
emphasizes that percentage of nuclear power capacity should increase. At
present it is less than 3%. The long term perspective is that over a
period of 25 years this proportion could increase to about 7%, which
would mean enhancing the capacity from 4,000 MW to over 55,000 MW.
affirmative actions and each one of these strategies is very powerful to make a
significant dent on the issue of global warming, because each one will
substitute significant portion of power generation which would have otherwise
been available only from fossil fuel based power generation systems and, to that
extent, would have added substantially to CO2 emission.
The four expert
presentations made in this session aimed at bringing out the possibilities and
also the problems of CO2 storage. The four presentations made a
balanced view of the issue. I would attempt only to summarise the various view
points as brought out through these studies. Storage of CO2 in
itself is a challenge. But, perhaps equally challenging is the capture of CO2.
Unless technological efforts on both these fronts fructify, success of the CCS
would remain a distant dream.
In Indian context, identification of sites for storage is somewhat
premature. I recall when this issue was discussed couple of years back. The
consensus was that through demonstration projects unless efficacies of carbon
capture technologies and of storage technologies are established and unless they
reach the domain of being somewhat cost effective, any discussion of sites in
Indian context would only create an out-of-tune expectation and therefore
present a distorted picture.
Studies have been done by National
Geological Research Institute. Studies have also been jointly done by
British Geological Survey, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and
National Institute of Technology, Bhopal. Geological Survey of India have
also carried out their studies to explore various possibilities. The
findings of the joint study in collaboration with the British Geological
Survey could be summarised as below:
CO2 storage by absorption onto coal is not going to make a
significant impact on national CO2 emission. In all less than 350
million tone of CO2 could be absorbed through this method and
therefore this may not be a preferred course of action.
In case of
oil and gas fields the total storage is estimated to be between 3.8 and
4.6 X 109 tonnes CO2. This possibility
will need to be further investigated.
insufficient data to estimate accurately the storage capacity of saline
Therefore these studies highlight only
oil and gas fields to be the possible storage sites.
The study done
under the ageis of the National Geographical Research Institute has examined and
analyzed various possibilities. These include CO2 storage in deep
saline aquifers, sequestration in Basalt formation, storage in Methane Hydrates,
Ocean sequestration and Terrestrial sequestration etc. They have come to the
CO2 Storage Research and Development is still in early stage
in India. Developing cost effective technologies for these CCS are major
challenges to Scientists and Researchers.
The environmental risks involved in the storage of CO2,
particularly in geological formations and in oceans have to be evaluated in
detail by monitoring and modeling in terms of long term stability.
The latest issue
of The Economist (January 19 - 25, 2008) has carried two important pieces - one
on "Global Warming" and another on "Get your Energy Here". I consider it
worthwhile to give couple of extracts from the first and one from the second.
tool for cutting carbon is its Emissions - Trading Scheme (ETS). Firms in the
dirtiest industries in all the member states are issued with permits to emit
carbon dioxide; if they want to pump out more, they have to buy more permits.
The higher the price, the greater the incentive to cut emissions.
From the start,
permits were given away free (as business wanted) instead of being auctioned (as
economists wanted). As a result, in non-traded sectors (especially energy, the
biggest polluter) firms have been passing on the cost of carbon to customers and
making windfall profits. What's more, swathes of industry were left out of the
scheme altogether. And many countries over-estimated their emissions, so too
many permits were issued. As a result, the carbon price crashed and, ten years
after the European Union signed the Kyoto protocol and five years after it
ratified it, most European countries do not look like meeting their
"That is a serious
consideration, particularly when other developed countries (especially America)
are slow to adopt carbon constraints. Yet a study of British industry published
this week by Britain's Carbon Trust undermines the idea that a carbon price of
?20 ($30) a tonne - high enough to make a range of clean-energy technologies
worthwhile-would be a huge burden. It suggests that industries making up less
than 1% of Britain's GDP (and 50% of its manufacturing emissions) would be
"significantly" affected. Aluminium, cement and some steel production are the
most vulnerable. The Carbon Trust reckons that the ETS can bring about deeper
cutbacks in its next phase, after 2012, without damaging competitiveness."
"Energy = much
By far the loudest
grumbling, though, is being prompted by specific targets that tell each
government how big a slice of their energy mix must be renewable by 2020.
Countries with feeble records on Renewable Energy (such as Britain) will be
required to make astonishing leaps : in Britain, renewables are supposed to rise
sevenfold, from less than 2% of the energy mix to around 14%. Class swots on
Renewable Energy are just as cross, because past efforts have been ignored in
setting new targets. Sweden, which currently gets about 40% of its energy from
hydro power and so on, will be asked to find more than half its energy from
renewables, pushing it into unknown territory at unknown cost."
All these sum up
to a situation that the adverse effect of CO2 emission, no doubt,
needs to be minimized and therefore CCS is one of the many options. But we must
recognize that this option is not a quick fix but it is a long haul. Being
associated with energy sector for over 30 years, I have seen how various
research and development projects have taken their own time to reach the stages
of pilot projects, prototypes, demonstration projects and then to commercial
scale manufacturing. These are not in terms of years but decades. A few
examples would perhaps illustrate the point:
We have been talking of Integrated Gasified Combined Cycle (IGCC) over 30
years now. In the world there are a few examples of successfully operating
plants of a reasonable size. In India, on Indian coal which is quite different,
a small demonstration plant was set-up by BHEL. We have been trying to scale up
to 100 MW, but in spite of our best intentions and efforts we have not been able
to do so on Indian coal. Wherever it has been done, as reported, the prices are
40 to 50% more than conventional plants and therefore it requires a subsidy
We all know that solar energy is almost
unlimited. Research and Development efforts for last over 40 years have
brought us to a stage but even now it is 7 to 8 times costlier than
conventional power and therefore for developing countries like India its
acceptability is posing to be a serious problem.
Any technology to
be researched, innovated and developed will take time. Sometimes they might
appear to be frustrating exercises. But if scientists and technologists give
up, developmental process will be halted. CCS has a laudable objective. But
researchers as well as policy planners must be prepared for a long wait till
this technology, when developed, reaches a point that power plant developers all
over the world, and particularly those in developing nations, adopt this. Until
then all our affirmative actions, on lines of Indian initiatives, must not only
continue but must be scaled up. In my assessment CCS technology, including
technologies to manage the environmental ramifications of CCS, are giving to
take not less than 15 - 20 years before they become deployable on a reasonable
scale. Efforts of researchers must continue and policy planners must support
these research projects.
Copyright : R.V. SHAHI