POWER-GEN Europe, 9-11 June 2015, Amsterdam, Netherlands
This year, Amsterdam hosted the POWER-GEN Europe and Renewable Energy World Europe Conference and Expo, June 9-11. During this three-day event, 56 sessions took place with more than 200 speakers discussing today’s challenges in the energy sector.
In her keynote speech, Maria van der Hoeven, the International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director, stressed the need of an all-encompassing approach for overcoming climate change challenges while concurrently strengthening energy security. Van der Hoeven supported structural reforms of the European Emission Trading System (EU ETS), and called it a necessary step towards improving carbon price signals for technology investment. She illustrated this statement with cases where existing markets have failed to attract investment for low-carbon generation, carbon capture and storage (CCS) included, and stated that government action will be of a key importance for this to change.
Marie Donnelly, Director of DG Energy, also discussed the need of the EU ETS reforms, as the market in its current form is not sending clear signals to investors. Donnelly continued by announcing the electricity market reform public consultation, to be launched as part of the Energy Union ‘Summer Package’, mid July 2015. Donnelly stated that Europe was “extremely at risk and exposed” by its huge reliance on oil and gas imports; which is why it is essential for Europe to act together in an integrated and collaborative way.
The joint plenary panel discussion took place on the second day, and focused on the main theme of the event: the European energy sector transition. The panel discussed traditional power generation role change; and highlighted the need for adaptation, due to growing penetration of renewable energy sources, and their intermittent generation. The session also included discussion on CCS. Stefan Singer of WWF mentioned that fossil fuels will be phased out at different speeds and that this process will be slow. He continued suggesting that during this process there might be a role for CCS. The initial critical tone of CCS changed and evolved towards a discussion about reality, scale and costs of CCS. The session ended on a more positive note about CCS feasibility and the advantages through its development.
The inability of the current form of the EU ETS to incentivise investment in clean technologies has been one of salient points of the conference. Industries voiced common concerns around production costs and investment priorities associated with power generation, especially in the light of current economic situation faced by project proponents and companies. All technology providers agreed that continued subsidies are of a crucial importance; and acknowledge the UK Contracts for Differences model as an effective means of support.
Three projects presented findings around their progress at the CCS session:
- The White Rose project (UK) opened the session confirming that is on-track progressing with FEED. The project will use oxyfuel technology to burn coal in a mix of gaseous oxygen (GOX) and recycled CO2 in the boiler instead of conventional air. This process produces a concentrated CO2 stream that minimises the size of flue gas processing equipment. The White Rose team is confident it will prove project’s technical, economic and commercial feasibility.
- The PostCap™ pilot plant shared results from utilising Siemens technology in E.ON‘s coal fired power plant near Frankfurt/Main, Germany. This project utilizes a process based on absorption-desorption principle which uses an amino acid salt (AAS) solvent. It has separated at least 90% of the CO2 from flue gases over 6,000 hours of coal fired and approximately 3,500 hours gas fired operating experience. This pilot has generated process and equipment knowledge for the scale up of technology and equipment to full size.
- Aerojet Rocketdyne (AR) initiative in developing a 1 MWth pilot plant employing an oxygen-fired pressurized fluidized bed combustor (Oxy-PFBC). The current development plans include completion of pilot scale testing by early to mid-2017 with the proponents estimating that electricity generated projected to cost significantly less than current post-combustion capture technologies.
The presented projects reiterated the fact that CCS can be a feasible and scalable technology critical for reducing greenhouse gas emissions while generating reliable, flexible and affordable power.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any of the projects of the European CCS Demonstration Project Network.