The complex and elaborate coal network that underpins energy provision and social support in India should be complemented with CCUS for decarbonisation without major economic and social disruption
With domestic coal as feedstock for the production of these chemicals, the Indian economy could potentially save billions of dollars and generate domestic activity and jobs through reduced import of crude oil.Globally, even the most climate-sensitive institutions favour CCUS as a critical means for decarbonisation. CCUS is one of the four pillars of a net-zero carbon world along with renewable energy-based electrification, bioenergy and hydrogen by the International Energy Agency (IEA). In September 2019, the UN climate change executive secretary observed that “CCUS is not a destination, but a transition from current fossil fuel dependent reality to a climate-neutral future by 2050”.
Oxy-fuel separation method involves the combustion of a fuel using nearly pure oxygen and the subsequent capture of the CO2 emitted.Calcium and chemical looping technologies involve CO2 capture at a high temperature using two main reactors. In calcium looping, the first reactor uses lime (calcium oxide, CaO) as a sorbent (material used to absorb or adsorb liquids or gases) to capture CO2 from a gas stream to form calcium carbonate (CaCO3). The CaCO3 is subsequently transported to the second reactor where it is regenerated, resulting in lime and a pure stream of CO2. The lime is then looped back to the first reactor. In chemical looping, the first reactor uses small particles of metal (iron or manganese) to bind oxygen from the air to form a metal oxide, which is then transported to the second reactor where it reacts with fuel, producing energy and a concentrated stream of CO2, regenerating the reduced form of the metal. The metal is then looped back to the first reactor. This technology is at a pilot / pre-commercial stage. Direct separation involves the capture of CO2 process emissions from cement production by indirectly heating the limestone using a special calciner. This technology strips CO2 directly from the limestone, without mixing it with other combustion gases, thus considerably reducing energy costs related to gas separation. This technology is currently being tested in pilot projects. In super critical CO2 power cycles, supercritical CO2 (CO2 above its critical temperature and pressure) is used instead of flue gas or steam to drive one or multiple turbines. Supercritical CO2 turbines typically use nearly pure oxygen to combust the fuel, in order to obtain a flue gas composed of CO2 and water vapour only. Prototype and demonstration projects using this technology are currently in operation. For transport of CO₂, the two main options are via pipeline and ship, although for short distances and small volumes CO2 can also be transported by truck or rail but at a higher cost. Pipelines are the cheapest way of transporting CO2 in large quantities onshore and, depending on the distance and volumes, offshore. Transport of CO2 by pipeline is already deployed at a large scale globally. For storage of CO2, coalfields and oil & gas fields are being studied in India. The potential for storage in coal fields at depths greater than 1,200 metres is thought to be quite high. Onshore and offshore CO2 storage potential in India is estimated to be between a low of 99 giga tonnes (Gt) and a high of 697 Gt located mainly in geological formations such as coal fields, oil and gas fields, sedimentary basins and saline aquifers. The CO2 storage potential in India is just over 1 percent of total global CO2 storage potential but this is not necessarily a problem as even low case storage potential far exceeds India’s potential CO2 emissions in the future. India’s total carbon emissions was 2.648 Gt in 2021 and by 2050 India’s CO2 emissions are expected to increase to 3.325 Gt under the stated policy scenario of the IEA. To meet carbon reduction pledges made by India these emissions have to fall to less than 900 million tonnes
India’s total carbon emissions was 2.648 Gt in 2021 and by 2050 India’s CO2 emissions are expected to increase to 3.325 Gt under the stated policy scenario of the IEA.We can account for the energy penalty by calculating costs on a CO2-avoided basis. Due to the extra energy required to capture CO2, the amount of CO2 emissions avoided is always less than the amount of CO2 captured. Therefore, capturing CO2 for purposes of storage requires more emphasis on reducing energy inputs than in traditional commercial processes. In the case of CO2 capture for commercial use, captured CO2 is used for various industrial and commercial processes such as in the production of urea, foam blowing, carbonated beverages, and dry ice production. Because the captured CO2 is used as a commercial commodity, the absorption process, while expensive, is profitable because of the price realised for the commercial CO2. According to the IEA, the cost of CCUS can vary greatly by CO2 source, from a range of US$15-25/tonne of CO2 (tCO2) for industrial processes producing “pure” or highly concentrated CO2 streams (such as ethanol production or natural gas processing) to US$40-120/t CO2 for processes with “dilute” gas streams, such as cement production and power generation. Capturing CO2 directly from the air is currently the most expensive approach. Transport of CO2 and storage costs can also vary greatly on a case-by-case basis, depending mainly on CO2 volumes, transport distances and storage conditions. The cost of onshore pipeline transport is estimated at US$2-14/tCO2. Currently, more than half of onshore storage capacity is estimated to be available below US$10/tCO2. The cost of storage can even be negative if the CO2 is injected into (and permanently stored in) oilfields to enhance production and thus generate more revenue from oil sales.
The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) and Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) have joined hands for launching a CCUS project in IOC’s Koyali refinery in Gujarat, where the captured CO2 will be used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR).According to advocates of CCUS technology, coal gasification combined with CCUS in India could reduce CO2 emissions by over 90 percent, reduce India’s oil imports, and also offer a range of economic goods and revenue streams in the energy and core sectors. They highlight the CCUS investments by China and the USA. There are 55 CCUS-related policies and around 40 CCUS projects of varying sizes and stages of development in China. China is now at the stage of demonstrating integrated CCUS projects at commercial scale. In 2022, 2 million tonnes of CO2 were stored in China, with an annual capture capacity of 3 million tonnes. Section 45Q of the U.S. tax code provides a performance-based tax credit to power plants and industrial facilities that capture and store CO2 that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere. The credit is linked to the installation and use of carbon capture equipment on industrial sources, gas or coal power plants, or facilities that would directly remove CO2 from the atmosphere. In all cases, to receive the credit, the CO2 must be stored geologically or be utilised as a feedstock or component of products. For India, coal is not only the primary source of energy but also a source of revenue and means of social support. Coal India Limited (CIL) provides employment for millions for whom there is no alternative eschewing efficient technology which will improve productivity and profitability of the company; all coal mining companies contribute to local area development through royalty and development levies; expensive transport of coal subsidies passenger rail travel connecting the poor with distant employment opportunities; coal cess is a major part of GST (goods and services tax) compensation fund and coal mining companies pay taxes; dividend and other revenue streams to the government. Ironically, coal-based power generation also supports its nemesis (intermittent renewable energy) with ramping capacity whenever needed absorbing additional economic and technical costs. This complex and elaborate coal network that underpins energy provision and social support in India could be complemented with CCUS for decarbonisation without major economic and social disruption.
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