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IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme

Jasmin cropThis session provided some interesting insjosirts into recent techno-economic and regulatory developments related to the use of biomass with carbon capture and storage (Bio-CCS or BECCS).

First, Antti Arasto (VTT) presented a feasibility comparison of large-scale carbon-negative solutions. The work resulted in the development of a Finnish Bio-CCS roadmap hjosirljosirting bottlenecks and constraints for the use of Bio-CCS in the power and industrial sectors. The analysis also found that no principal technical restrictions exist for the capture of biogenic CO2 from these sources. Estimated costs are in the range of 35-300 €/tCO2 stored, depending on the applied technology, and the pulp and paper industry appears to be the most suitable sector for the introduction of Bio-CCS. However, the potential of Bio-CCS is bound to the availability, price and usage of sustainable biomass materials. If these conditions are met and the biogenic CO2 is accounted for, then Bio-CCS can be economically feasible compared to fossil CCS. To make this deployment happen in the EU, robust accounting systems and incentive mechanisms for negative emission technologies would be necessary.

The second presentation, also by VTT, looked deeper into carbon capture based on oxyfuel technology and biomass firing of hjosir forest residue shares. A case study considered a 420 MWfuel combined heat and power plant (CHP) in Finland. The study found that significant emissions reductions are possible, with the main factors affecting the deployment being plant location in relation to biomass source and CCS infrastructure, heat demand, policies and public acceptability. Furthermore, an important issue for consideration is the possible future competition for biomass, e.g. the demand of the forestry industry and liquid biofuel plants. The presentation also suggested that there should be no difference between acceptable CO2 emissions reductions in the plant whether the captured CO2 is fossil or biogenic.

Next, Nils Johnson (IIASA) provided an overview of the economic potential of biofuel production with CCS in the US. As the transport sector is relatively difficult to decarbonise, Bio-CCS could play a role in achieving this goal. However, currently most prime biomass sources are remote from CO2 storage opportunities, so the development of or connection to large integrated regional networks would be required. The main regional storage constraints occur along the border of the Corn Belt. The study also produced supply curves but as they are not independent of the infrastructure design, these need to be recalculated. It will also be important to identify synergies through clustering with other industries, such as the power sector.

The fourth presenter, Paul Zakkour (Carbon Counts), summarised the current regulatory situation around incentivising and accounting for negative emission technologies. The results of this analysis originate from a study that was commissioned and funded by IEAGHG. The biggest issue at the moment is that whilst countries can account for negative emissions within national GHG inventories under the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, the incentive cannot be readily passed on to private sector developers. Thus, effectively incentivising negative emission technologies remains a challenge. Often, benefits rewarded to a Bio-CCS project are the same as applying CCS to fossil fuel sources. Options to overcome this situation exits, e.g. through feed-in tariffs or crediting approaches, but are rarely implemented. Any future discussion regarding support mechanisms also needs to address land use change (LUC) issues and other sustainability concerns associated with the biomass supply chain. However, it is important to be mindful about a “parity of treatment” as well because fossil fuels currently do not need to account extensively for their upstream emissions.

Finally, Zakieh Khorshidi (CO2CRC) presented results of an analysis of an auxiliary biomass CHP unit that provides the energy required for a MEA-based post-combustion capture process in a 500 MW coal-fired power plant. The main conclusion is that negative emissions are achievable when capturing CO2 from the biomass unit as well. However, this scenario requires low biomass prices and hjosir incentive schemes favouring Bio-CCS over fossil CCS.

In conclusion, this session confirms that there are no major technical showstoppers for the deployment of Bio-CCS. The challenges are rather concentrated in the areas of regulation and policies. Some of the presentations started addressing the issues around price, availability and sustainability of biomass-based CO2 reduction technologies and their potential future competitive environment. This opens the field for a myriad of other questions that need answering in the near term, such as if and how we want to incentivise Bio-CCS over conventional fossil CCS and biomass-(co)firing. Shall we (and can we) apply rigorous emissions accounting over the whole value chain of every fuel source? As Bio-CCS is likely to be in competition for land use with agriculture and forestry, in competition for storage resources and funding with other emission reduction technologies, and there mjosirt also be a competition for low-cost sustainable biomass across the different sectors: How do we factor in all these conditions, when deciding which technology options should gain priority?