CCS vs Hazelwood (updated)

It’s often hard to get an idea of the scale at which different technologies are operating. For example, there’s a lot of discussion about Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS or ‘clean coal’), though less than there used to be. To get an idea of current and near-future prospects for CCS in the power sector, I went to the Global CCS Institute list of large-scale projects. The site says

Large-scale CCS projects in the power sector are now a reality, demonstrated by:
* The world’s first large-scale power sector CCS project – the Boundary Dam Integrated Carbon Capture and Sequestration Demonstration Project in Canada (CO2 capture capacity of 1 Mtpa) – becoming operational in October 2014
* Commissioning activities on a new-build 582 megawatt (MW) power plant beginning at the Kemper County Energy Facility in Mississippi (US, CO2 capture capacity of 3 Mtpa) with CO2 capture expected to commence in the first half of 2016
* The Petra Nova Carbon Capture Project at the W.A. Parish power plant near Houston, Texas (US, CO2 capture capacity of 1.4 Mtpa) entering construction in July 2014, with CO2 capture anticipated by the end of 2016.

Tactfully ignoring the fact that the Kemper project has turned out to be a disaster, I thought I would scale this against an option that we can all comprehend, shutting down the brown coal power station at Hazelwood. According to this article, Hazelwood generates 15.7 million tonnes of CO2 per annum, or about three times the total from all CCS Power projects now in operation or under construction.

Looking further down the page, there’s a summary of all the CCS projects currently at any stage of consideration anywhere in the world

Globally, there are 14 large-scale CCS projects in operation, with a further eight under construction. The 22 projects in operation or under construction represents a doubling since the start of this decade. The total CO2 capture capacity of these 22 projects is around 40 million tonnes per annum.

There are another 14 large-scale CCS projects at the most advanced stage of development planning, the Concept Definition (or Define) stage, with a total CO2 capture capacity of around 20 million tonnes per annum. A further 15 large-scale CCS projects are in earlier stages of development planning (the Evaluate and Identify stages) and have a total CO2 capture capacity of around 30 million tonnes per annum.

So, if all of these projects were successfully completed, they would offset the emissions of six Hazelwood-sized plants. It gets worse. Many of these projects serve only to reduce the “fugitive” emissions from oil and gas fields, and most rely for their viability on using the captured CO2 in oil fields, to push more oil to the surface (enhanced oil recovery).

It’s time to bury the myth of CCS once and for all.

were implemented on schedule, the impact over the next fifteen years would be negated if we allowed Hazelwood to continue operating over that period.

33 thoughts on “CCS vs Hazelwood (updated)

  1. @John Quiggin
    You might find these details in the reg test for the SA to Heywood Interconnector upgrade on the AEMO website. The capacity was increased from 460 MW to 650 MW to deal with the generation spikes from wind. Flows go both ways depending on wind generation output. Also net imports aren’t relevant. It is the peak flows and the consequential spike in dispatch costs to SA consumers from not having generating capacity to meet peak demand if the wind doesn’t blow.

  2. paul walter: It wasn’t the cut in subsidies(there’s a clue) that killed the Australian car industry. It was the Australian consumer. We didn’t want to buy the cars that they were making! Have a look at the latest model falcon. Would you buy one? Did you buy one? Would you buy one at half the price? No ,no and no

  3. South Australia generates electricity from wind equal to about one third of its total consumption and about 6% from rooftop solar. The rest is generated mostly from gas, although a large contribution comes from the one operating coal power station in the state, although at the time I write this it is currently not producing anything at all.

    Because Victoria’s wholesale electricity is, quite possibly, the cheapest in the world or at least the developed world, South Australia imports a lot as it is often cheaper than burning natural gas. Basically, whenever electricity prices are lower in Victoria then in South Australia, South Australia imports electricity. And when it is vice versa South Australia exports electricity. When South Australia exports it is usually in the early hours of the morning, but it has also exported electricity in the middle of the day when wind and solar production have been high.

    In the 2005-06 financial year South Australia exported almost no electricity while importing almost 2,700 gigawatt-hours. The years since then have been less one sided. A variety of factors affect imports and exports, but one of the most important has been the increase in renewable generating capacity in the state.

    A graph of electricity imports and exports for the past 10 years can be found on page 27 of the 2015 South Australian Electricity Report, a PDF of which can be obtained here:

  4. I probably should have mentioned that in 2014-15 South Australia’s grid electricity use was 12,468 gigawatt-hours, which was down 3.1% from the year before. In addition the state generated an estimated 857 gigawatt-hours from rooftop solar which is 6.4% of total electricity use. Wind power generated 4,226 gigawatt-hours for a total of 33.9% of grid electricity use or 31.7% of total electricity use. Net electricity imports were approximately 1,600 gigawatt-hours which was about 12% of total electricity use.

  5. So today, a fine Sunday, rooftop solar provided around 30% or more of total electricity use for several hours around noon. This resulted in the state exporting over 300 megawatts to Victoria at that time. The coal powered Northern Power Station was operating only one unit at minimum capacity. Apparently a wholesale price of about two and a half cents a kilowatt-hour is below its marginal cost and not worth burning more than the minimum amount of coal required to keep the plant operating.

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