Why we need CCS to secure future renewables

2013-11-18 10:11 by Anja Reitz

Take Germany, for example, its Energiewende has given rise to major renewables reliance; producing at their peak, up to 60% of Germany’s electricity. That’s great news on the surface, but the intermittency issue plays havoc with European power grids. For example, at periods of low generation and high demand, Germany is forced to rely upon French nuclear power plants, as well as using coal-generated power from neighbours such as Poland to meet demand. 

CO2 emissions rose last year as coal-fired power plants became cheaper to operate than gas; an issue the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposes to tackle by limiting emissions from new coal plants to 500 kilograms per MWh, and from gas plants, to 450 kg per MWh. However, despite rising legislation, market forces dictate that the prevalence of fossil fuels, combined with their ability to flexibly manage power surges, will prolong their use as a crutch for renewables.

Carbon capture technologies are already established which can manage the rapid dynamic transition that’s needed between renewable and fossil fuel generated power, whilst limiting the release of CO2. TCM’s amine carbon capture unit can scale the CO2 capture rate from zero to 90% CO2 removal (3,2 tonnes of CO2 per hour) in less than two hours - mimicking a power surge scenario of the grid going from full renewables reliance to reliance on fossil fuels.

Another example of where CCS makes renewables more viable is in the industrial sector. Cement, iron, steel, chemical and refining plants together make up 20 percent of global emissions. Renewables, especially solar, hold huge potential for reducing costs of the industrial sector. Carbon capture is one of the few viable ways to enable the sector to transition to a large proportion of renewable generation, whilst limiting greenhouse gases. The flexibility of CCS can bridge the gap between fossil fuels and renewables, encouraging investment in both to meet the IEA’s target for renewables to make up 23% of global emissions reductions and CCS to make up 17% in 2050.


Source: Carbon Capture Journal, 16 Nov 2013

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