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Carbon Capture and Storage Technology: A possible long term solution to climate change challenge, Shri R V Shahi, Former Secretary, Ministry of Power

Industrial revolution in the world required massive exploitation and utilisation of energy resources. Much before the discovery of petroleum fuels, civilisation and industrialisation grew around fossil fuels as the most important of the energy resources. It is because of these reasons that utilisation of coal emerged as the most important component of the energy consumption. That is why when we look at the carbon emissions in developed countries, we find the per capita emission of CO2 disproportionately higher in these countries as compared to the emissions in undeveloped and developing economies. The pace of growth continued. Desire and aspirations of people in poor countries to have their living standards enhanced also grew. Communication and media explosion enabled people living in poor countries to understand the enormity of differences in the styles of living of people in developed countries vis-?-vis their own conditions. Public pressures on political systems led to different countries evolving strategies to charter a rapid economic growth. This needed massive doses of energy. Countries like India and China, more particularly China, depended heavily on fossil fuels as these fuels were more cost effective. The absolute quantum of CO2 started increasing at a much more rapid pace in developing economies than in industrialised nations. This was inevitable, obviously not unusual, because people in these countries badly needed to increase their energy consumption levels.


*Keynote address in the Conference on "Awareness and Capacity Building on CCS" conducted at Indian National Science Academy

Environmental ramifications of consumptions of fossil fuels, notably among them being coal, have always been known. Adverse impact of green house gases has been studied and disseminated over last two to three decades. But in the last ten years, in the wake of economic growth of large developing countries, carbon emission has been noticed with concern by all the countries in the world. Studies initiated under the purview of Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change have particularly brought into focus the implications of ever increasing CO2 emissions. In spite of countries having committed to comply with the obligations under the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, the implementations have been far from being satisfactory. Instead of reducing the emission levels as compared to the Base Year 1991, in almost all cases, emissions increased in the countries which are highly industrialised and which committed to reduce CO2 emissions.

Several initiatives, therefore, were needed to address this situation. One such initiative was launched under the leadership of the U.S.A. Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) was launched in June, 2003 with a number of nations signing the CSLF Charter in Washington on June 25, 2003. Sequestration means capture and storage. I had the opportunity and privilege of being associated directly with the drafting and finalisation of this Charter. I recall that in the last week of June when the representatives of 19 countries, including India, were to meet and finalise the CSLF Charter to be signed by the Ministers of different countries, an initial draft had been forwarded by the U.S.A. to all the countries. In India there were differing perceptions and opinions among various Ministries and Departments whether or not India should be signatory to this Charter. Without naming the Ministries and Departments, the views differed in the following manner - (a) U.S.A., which has not even ratified the Kyoto Protocol, wants to divert the attention of the world through this new CSLF initiative, (b) Seriousness on the part of U.S.A. is less, publicity aspect is more, (c) India has a long way to go in increasing its energy production base and larger amount of CO2 emission is inevitable. Its per capita CO2 emission is so low that initiative like Carbon Capture and Storage is irrelevant to India, (d) The cost of such technologies would be so excessive that it would be unbearable for Indian economy, (e) Developed countries, once we become a signatory, may try to push these technologies however unaffordable they may be, to countries like India, which we can ill-afford.

While we had views on these lines, we also had different perspectives by others. They opined that climate change issues were so important that many countries would go along with such initiatives. If India keeps itself out, it may not serve much purpose. It could be looked upon by others that it is not serious about such important issues like green house gases and climate change concerns. U.S.A. will, in any case, push through this initiative. There is no harm in participating in this initiative so long as deployment of technologies, if they are not cost effective, are not binding on us. This final approach became the corner stone of India's approach in this matter. Accordingly, we concluded that India should participate in the Charter but should protect its position while finalising the draft of this Charter.

When the official level discussion took place, in Washington on June 24, 2003, to finalise the draft of the Charter, I participated in the core drafting team. The original draft included the formulation "To facilitate the development and deployment of improved cost effective technologies............." We successfully argued that it would not be desirable to include in the draft the phrase "Deployment". Around this core concept, the entire draft was restructured and alterations were made in different paragraphs for a harmonious reading. Given below are a few important extracts from the Charter. These relate to - (i) Purpose of the CSLF, (ii) Functions of the CSLF, (iii) Organisation of the CSLF, (iv) Research and Intellectual Property Right.

"1. Purpose of the CSLF

To facilitate the development of improved cost-effective technologies for the separation and capture of carbon dioxide for its transport and long-term safe storage; to make these technologies broadly available internationally; and to identify and address wider issues relating to carbon capture and storage. This could include promoting the appropriate technical, political, and regulatory environments for the development of such technology.

2. Function of the CSLF

The CSLF will seek to:


Identify key obstacles to achieving improved technological capacity


Identify potential areas of multilateral collaborations on carbon separation, capture, transport and storage technologies


Foster collaborative research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) projects reflecting Members' priorities


Identify potential issues relating to the treatment of intellectual property


Establish guidelines for the collaborations and reporting of their results


Assess regularly the progress of collaborative R&D projects and make recommendations on the direction of such projects


Establish and regularly assess an inventory of the potential areas of needed research


Organize collaboration with all sectors of the international research community, including industry, academia, government and non-government organizations; the CSLF is also intended to complement ongoing international cooperation in this area


Develop strategies to address issues of public perception


Conduct such other activities to advance achievement of the CSLF's purpose as the Members may determine

3. Organization of the CSLF


A Policy Group and a Technical Group will be formed. Unless otherwise determined by consensus of the Members, each Member will make up to two appointments to the Policy Group and up to two appointments to the Technical Group. Other individuals may attend the Policy Group and Technical Group meetings as deemed necessary by the appointed representatives.


The Policy Group will govern the overall framework and policies of the CSLF, periodically review the program of collaborative projects, and provide direction to the Secretariat. The Group should meet at least once a year, at times and places to be determined by its appointed representatives. All decisions of the Group will be made by consensus of the Members.


The Technical Group will report to the Policy Group. The Technical Group will meet as often as necessary to review the progress of collaborative projects, identify promising directions for the research, and make recommendations to the Policy Group on needed actions.


The CSLF will meet at such times and places as determined by the Policy Group.


The principal coordinator of the CSLF's communications and activities will be the CSLF Secretariat. The Secretariat will: (1) organize the meetings of the CSLF and its sub-groups, (2) arrange special activities such as teleconferences and workshops, (3) receive and forward new membership requests to the Policy Group, (4) coordinate communications with regard to CSLF activities and their status, (5) act as a clearing house of information for the CSLF, (6) maintain procedures for key functions that are approved by the Policy Group, and (7) perform such other tasks as the Policy Group directs. The focus of the Secretariat will be administrative. The Secretariat will not act on matters of substance except as specifically instructed by the Policy Group.


The Secretariat may, as required, use the services of personnel employed by the Members and made available to the Secretariat. Unless otherwise agreed, such personnel will be remunerated by their respective employers and will remain subject to their employers' conditions of employment.


The U.S. Department of Energy will act as the CSLF Secretariat unless otherwise decided by consensus of the Members.


Each Member will individually determine the nature of its participation in the CSLF activities.

4. Open Research and Intellectual Property


To the extent practicable, the R&D fostered by the CSLF should be open and non-proprietary.


The protection and allocation of intellectual property, and the treatment of proprietary information, generated in R&D collaborations under CSLF auspices will be defined by implementing arrangements."

Based on this Charter, a Policy Group was set up as the Apex Policy Organisation. I had the privilege of being a Member on this Policy Group till the time I relinquished the charge of Secretary Power in January, 2007. Regular interactions in the Policy Group led to better understanding of the issues. However, not much progress could be made because of complete lack of clarity on financing of Research Projects. I Co-Chaired a Group on Financing Issues and made a Presentation to the entire CSLF Group. Suggested option is outlined below :

"Suggested Option

  • Preferable option is to create a separate fund for promotion of CSLF projects in developing countries with suitable contribution from developed country members.

  • Example of US indicating commitment of USD 50 million under Methane to Market Partnership.

  • Fund size may be modest to begin with (USD 100 million).

  • Contribution may be on the basis of a reasonable criteria.

  • Per Capita CO2 emission could be a basis.

Per Capita CO2 Emission

Country Tones of CO2
United States 19.66
Australia 17.36
Canada 16.93
Netherlands 11.02
Russia 10.43
Germany 10.15
Denmark 9.52
Korea 9.48
Japan 9.47
United Kingdom 8.94
Italy 7.47
Norway 7.28
South Africa 6.65
France 6.16
Mexico 3.64
China 2.57
Brazil 1.77
Colombia 1.26
India 0.97
World Avg. 3.89
Source : Key World Statistics (2004) by International Energy Agency

  • Suggested Contributions:

    • U.S.A USD 30 million

    • Other Developed Countries USD 5 to 10 million"

In the Policy Group, it was decided to set up Technical Committees which would identify projects to be undertaken by different countries. India's presence was duly recognised by having a Co-Chair from India, on the Technical Group. A list of projects, which were identified, is given below. We also organised a few conferences and workshops on this subject in India.

"CSLF Recognized Projects

  • ARC Enhanced Coal-Bed Methane Recovery Project

This link goes to the project fact sheet. The ARC Enhanced Coal-Bed Methane Recovery Project is a pilot-scale project (3 test wells) located in Alberta that will evaluate a previously developed process of CO2 injection into deep coal beds for simultaneous sequestration of the CO2 and liberation (and subsequent capture) of coal-bed methane.

  • CANMET Energy Technology Centre (CETC) R&D Oxyfuel Combustion for CO2 Capture

This is a pilot-scale project (0.3 megawatt-thermal) located near Ottawa, Ontario, that will demonstrate oxyfuel combustion technology with CO2 capture. The goal of the project is to develop energy-efficient integrated multi-pollutant control, waste management and CO2 capture technologies for combustion-based applications and to provide information for the scale-up, design and operation of large scale industrial and utility plants based on the oxy-fuel concept.


The CASTOR project is endorsed by the CSLF. CASTOR, "CO2 from Capture to Storage", is a European initiative grouping 30 partners (industries, research institutes, and universities) representing 11 European countries, including CSLF members France and Norway. The project is partially funded by another CSLF member, the European Commission, under the 6th Framework Program. CASTOR`s overall goal is to develop and validate, in public/private partnerships, all the innovative technologies needed to capture and store CO2 in a reliable and safe way.

  • CO2 Capture Project

This is a pilot-scale project that will continue the development of new technologies to reduce the cost of CO2 separation, capture, and geologic storage from combustion sources such as turbines, heaters and boilers. CCP is an international public private R&D partnership.

  • CO2 GeoNet

This focus of this project, which began in 2004, is on geologic storage options for CO2 as a greenhouse gas mitigation option, and to assemble an authoritative body for Europe on geologic sequestration. Major objectives include formation of a partnership consisting, at first, of 13 key European research centers and other expert collaborators in the area of geological storage of CO2 , and identification of knowledge gaps in the long-term geologic storage of CO2 and formulation of new research projects and tools to eliminate these gaps. The CO2 GeoNet project will result in re-alignment of European national research programs and prevention of duplication of research effort. It will also contribute to the knowledge base for CO2 storage site selection, injection operations, monitoring, verification, safety, environmental protection, and training standards.

All of these contributions will have an impact on future carbon sequestration planning and activities not only in Europe, but in the rest of the world as well.

  • CO2 Separation from Pressurized Gas Stream

This is a small-scale project that will evaluate processes and economics for CO2 separation from pressurized gas streams. Testing will utilize membranes developed in Japan at a test facility near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. The proposed project, which began in 2003 and is scheduled for completion in 2006, will evaluate primary promising new membranes under atmospheric pressure. The next stage is to improve the performance of the membranes for CO2 removal from the fuel gas product of coal gasification and other gas streams under high pressure.

  • CO2 SINK

This is a pilot-scale project that will test and evaluate CO2 capture and storage at an existing natural gas storage facility near Berlin, Germany, and in a deeper land-based saline aquifer. A key part of the project will be monitoring the migration characteristics of the stored CO2 .


This large-scale project is a follow-on to the current Sleipner project, which involves injection of about one million metric tons per year of CO2 into an offshore geologic saline formation beneath the North Sea. This next phase will involve continuation of monitoring of the field to track CO2 migration (involving a seismic survey) and additional studies to gain further knowledge of geochemistry and dissolution processes. There will also be several preliminary feasibility studies for additional geologic settings (in Wales, Germany, Denmark, and Norway) of future candidate project sites. The goal of the project is to develop sound scientific-based methodologies for the assessment, planning, and long-term monitoring of underground CO2 storage, both onshore and offshore.

  • Demonstration of Capture, Injection and Geologic Sequestration of CO2 in Basalt Formations of India

This is a pilot-scale project that will develop the technology and demonstrate the viability for deep bed injection of CO2 in the sedimentary rocks underlying India's very widespread basalt formations. Sites selected for the project will be basalt covered areas with minimum trap thickness of 600 meters of underlain sedimentary rocks. A total of approximately 2,000 tons of CO2 will be injected, which will be followed by intensive investigations to discover the fate of the CO2 using a broad range of geo-physical and geo-chemical techniques and the development of numerical models and leakage risk assessments.

Knowledge gained from this project will be applicable in other parts of the world. An important goal of this project is to show that storage of a large volume of CO2 can be accomplished in geologic environments similar to the Indian subcontinent.

  • Development of China's Coalbed Methane Technology / Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Project

This is a pilot-scale project, begun in 2002, which will evaluate reservoir properties of selected coal seams of the Qinshui Basin of eastern China and carry out field testing at relatively low CO2 injection rates. This project will address unique issues related to the storage capacities in coalbeds and coalbed methane rate enhancement and will provide information on the coal reservoirs including gas adsorption/desorption characteristics, injectivity variations, permeability changes and CO2 storage capacities. Knowledge gained from this project can be quickly applied to other coal basins in the world, and the project includes an assessment of CO2 sources in the area that could potentially be used for commercial scale projects.

The main objective of this project is to use the results from the Alberta, Canada Enhanced Coal-Bed Methane project and make improved estimates on the technology's performance, cost and benefits, first in south Qinshui basin and then in other coal basins in China.


The ENCAP Project is a broad-based collaboration between industry, authorities, universities and institutes, with a goal of developing new pre-combustion CO2 capture technologies and processes for power generation.

Activities within the project are being focused in six main areas:

  • Process and Power Systems

  • Pre-Combustion Decarbonisation Technologies

  • O2 /CO2 combustion (Oxy-fuel) Boiler technologies

  • Chemical Looping Combustion

  • High-Temperature Oxygen Generation for Power Cycles

  • and Novel Pre-Combustion Capture Concepts

The results from ENCAP will enable power companies to launch a new design project by the end of the decade which could lead to a large demonstration plant, with potential for additional wide commercial exploitation, by the year 2020.

  • Frio Project

This link goes to the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin. The Frio Project is a pilot-scale project located near Houston, Texas, that will demonstrate CO2 sequestration in an on-shore underground saline reservoir. The project involves injecting relatively small quantities of CO2 into the reservoir and monitoring its movement in the formation for several years thereafter.

  • Geologic CO2 Storage Assurance at In Salah, Algeria

"In Salah Gas" is a commercial joint venture which recovers natural gas containing up to 10% CO2 from several geological reservoirs in Algeria for processing and delivery to markets in Europe. As a result of the processing, 1 million metric tons of CO2 per year is produced, which is re-injected into carboniferous sandstone reservoirs at a depth of 1,800 metres. The In Salah project, which is expected to run for five years, is an industrial scale demonstration of CO2 geological storage. The goals of the project are to verify that long-term assurance of geologic storage can be met by short-term monitoring and to demonstrate that such projects represent a viable greenhouse gas mitigation option. An additional objective is to set precedents for the regulation and verification of the safe, secure and cost-effective geological storage of CO2 in a gas reservoir.

  • ITC CO2 Capture with Chemical Solvents

This is a pilot-scale project (4 metric tons per day CO2 capture) located on a flue gas slipstream of a lignite-fueled power plant near Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, that will demonstrate CO2 capture using chemical solvents. Supporting activities include bench- and lab-scale units that will be used to optimize the entire process using improved solvents and contactors, develop fundamental knowledge of solvent stability, and minimize energy usage requirements. More than $5 million has so far been spent on construction of the pilot facility at the project site and another $3 million on a pilot plant (1 metric ton per day CO2 capture) at the University of Regina where additional testing is taking place. The goal of the project is to develop improved cost-effective technologies for separation and capture of CO2 from flue gas. Current research is demonstrating significantly reduced regeneration energy requirements.

  • Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships

The Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships project, which began in September 2003, is a broad-based collaboration of industry and the research community to help identify and test the most promising opportunities for implementing sequestration technologies in the United States and Canada. The overall project structure is comprised of more than 240 organizations from the United States and six other CSLF Members within an area that includes 40 American states, 4 Canadian Provinces, and 3 Native American Nations. Results from Phase I of the Partnerships have identified more than 600 gigatons of storage capacity in domestic geologic formations, including saline reservoirs, depleted oil and gas fields, coal seams, shale, and basalt formations. Additional characterization during Phase II is expected to identify more potential sinks and refine the estimates determined during Phase I.

Objectives of the project include conducting field validation tests of specific sequestration technologies, establishing appropriate measurement, monitoring and verification protocols, establishing storage capacities in each geographical region of the Partnerships, establishing a regulatory environment for each type of sequestration technology, implementing Public Outreach and Education Mechanisms, identifying commercially available sequestration technologies that are ready for deployment, and identifying future research areas.

  • Regional Opportunities for CO2 Capture and Storage in China

This project is a broad-based collaboration between United States and Chinese organizations that is being coordinated by U.S./China Energy and Environmental Technology Center. A multinational team will compile key characteristics of large man-made CO2 sources, including power plants, iron and steel facilities, cement kilns, and refineries. The team will also study candidate geologic storage formations that exist across China and develop estimates of geologic CO2 storage capacities.

A proven methodology previously developed under the auspices of the IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme will be modified as appropriate and applied to assess the distribution of CO2 storage potential within China, and the infrastructure needs and costs associated with the capture of CO2 . Preliminary activities now underway include initial data collection and mapping of CO2 storage reservoirs, along with efforts to adapt and refine the assessment methodology for China. The goal of the project is to characterize the technical and economic potential of CO2 capture and storage in China, and assess the ability of geologic CO2 storage to help mitigate current and future CO2 emissions there.

  • Weyburn II CO2 Storage Project

This is a commercial-scale project that will utilize CO2 for enhanced oil recovery at a Canadian oil field. The goal of the project is to determine the performance and undertake a thorough risk assessment of CO2 storage in conjunction with its use in enhanced oil recovery."

Subsequently when the U.S.A. proposed for "Future Gen Zero Emission" project, India not only participated, but I fact, we became the first country to collaborate with U.S.A. with monetary participation. In the year 2005, I signed, on behalf of the Govt. of India, the Agreement on "Future Gen Zero Emission Project" alongwith my counterpart in the U.S. Energy Department. I was also on the Steering Committee of this project. Thus, India's commitment on the Research and Development is adequately reflected by its active participation in all these initiatives.

My own belief on this subject has been that unless various countries commit substantial research and development funds, network various components of research projects, it is unlikely that cost effective technologies will be available to the developing countries, so that they can deploy these technologies in the power generation process. An example in case could be the IGCC. This project has been talked for over three decades, but it has not come to any visible size and shape in countries like India. Carbon Capture and Storage can, no doubt, be a technology of the future for which every country should put its effort. But, to think that their deployment is going to be easily acceptable in the near future, would be a too simplistic assumption. This should, however, not discourage or dampen our efforts to participate in research and development related to CCS. It may not be a cost effective technology in the short or medium term, but it may definitely emerge as a possible long term solution to the challenge of CO2 emissions and climate change. We must recognise that, inspite of our thrust on development of all our hydroelectric potential, plans to augment substantially the nuclear power capacity, commitment to harness all possible other renewable energy sources (wind, bio-mass, solar etc.), since our power demand is going to grow at the annual rate of 8 to 9% over next 25 years, heavy dependence on coal will have to continue. Therefore, our power development strategy must explore and find solutions to the increasing CO2 emission problem. CCS Technology will obviously have to be researched intensively to make it cost effective. This is indeed a challenge to scientists and technologists.