Kyoto: "new Danish export adventure"?

3 June 2003

With the requirement to reduce CO2 emissions by 21 per cent, Danish society faces a major task in the coming decade. However, Elsam is convinced that the CO2-burden can be changed into the driving force "for a new export adventure on a par with the current success of the wind power industry ­ as long as we approach matters properly".

Speaking at Elsam's general meeting in Aarhus in April, Chairman Jens Bahne Jørgensen nevertheless said current Danish policies on climate change could have serious consequences if the bulk of the carbon dioxide burden is imposed on the power industry, as first assessments of the Danish strategy indicate.

Along with Kinder Morgan CO2 Company (KMCO2), Elsam is actively engaged in looking at the possibilities for capturing CO2 from coal powered plants and using it for enhanced oil recovery in the North Sea. This project, called CENS (CO2 for Enhanced Oil Recovery in the North Sea), is seen as one of the routes through which Kyoto might produce export revenues for Denmark.

Describing CENS at the recent PowerGen conference in Dusseldorf, Kim Nissen of Elsam pointed out that oil production from the North Sea is anticipated to decline dramatically over the next decade but suggested that CO2 from coal-fired plants in Denmark and "potentially the United Kingdom" will greatly increase recoverable oil and gas reserves in mature offshore fields.

In Denmark the CENS project initially envisages CO2 capture from the five large coal-fired plants currently operated by Elsam in the west of the country. In the UK the CENS project hopes to capture CO2 from the large coal-fired power plants situated along the North Sea coast. The possibility of integrating other plants in East Denmark could permit CO2 production to grow from 6 million tonnes per year in 2006 to a potential 15 million tonnes per year in 2012.

The CO2 capture technology will be based on post-combustion scrubbing of flue gas, downstream of FGD and SCR. The hope is to capture over 90 per cent of the CO2 emitted from coal-fired plants. The typical flue gas concentration is 12-14 per cent CO2 ­ three times the concentration for natural gas fired power plants.

As to costs "CENS is comfortable with indicating that the cost of delivered CO2 at the platform will be below $35 per tonne", with capture and compression plant for a large coal-fired plant costing in the region of $140-190 million.

However, offshore EOR projects will need an oil price of around $30/bbl to satisfy typical investment criteria in the oil sector.

Over the past year, reported Nissen, Elsam has conducted extensive investigations with major technology suppliers on the installation of add-on post-combustion CO2 capture at its Esbjerg unit 3 plant. Among the conclusions reached are that:

• space exists at Esbjerg 3 to accommodate equipment for absorption, treatment and compression of CO2 (see photomontage);

• the production price of the CO2 would be about 25 US$/tonne CO2 ex power station at a pressure of 140 bara;

• the technological risk can be compared with that of early entry into the building and operating of FGD systems.

A proposed infrastructure for getting CO2 to the North Sea is shown in the map.

The next step is to get first project underway. Possible mimimum projects which might serve as a starting point are highlighted on the map.

Last year Royal Dutch Shell and Elsam swapped carbon dioxide pollution permits, establishing the first trading link between the only two government backed emission trading schemes in the world.

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