China and Australia to Install Clean Coal Plant in Beijing

BEIJING, China, March 8, 2008 (ENS) – Two coal producing nations – Australia and China – signed a formal agreement for research and testing of clean coal technology Thursday in Beijing.

The agreement, between the Australian government research organization CSIRO and China’s Thermal Power Research Institute, TPRI, will see TPRI install, commission and operate a post-combustion capture pilot plant at the Huaneng Beijing Co-Generation Power Plant as part of CSIRO’s research program.

Post combustion capture, PCC, is a process that uses a liquid to capture the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from power station flue gases. The technology can potentially reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing and future coal-fired power stations by more than 85 percent, CSIRO said in a statement.

The pilot plant is designed to capture 3,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from the power station and begins the process of adapting this technology to evaluate its effectiveness in Chinese conditions.

CSIRO’s involvement in the project is made possible through $A4 million in funding from the government of Australia.

Dr. John Wright, director of CSIRO’s Energy Transformed National Research Flagship, said low emission energy generation is a key research area for the Flagship and he welcomes the support of the Australian government.

Carbon capture and storage plant
in Australia (Photo courtesy CSIRO)

“Climate change is a critical issue for Australia and internationally, and we’re delighted to be working with TPRI to help find solutions to this global challenge. This project is part of a major research program to identify ways to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector,” he said.

“The project will focus on assessing the performance of an amine-based PCC pilot plant under Chinese conditions. It will allow PCC technology to be progressed in the Chinese energy sector which will have a much greater impact than operating in Australia alone,” Wright said.

The TPRI is aiming for the Beijing pilot plant to be up and running before August.

The installation of the post combustion capture pilot plant in Beijing forms part of the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate initiative. This program also includes a pilot plant installation at Delta Electricity’s Munmorah power station on the New South Wales Central Coast, with an additional Australian site currently under negotiation.

The Energy Transformed National Research Flagship is also undertaking post combustion capture research with a $A5.6 million project in the Latrobe Valley, which focuses on brown coal.

Coal accounts for about 70 percent of China’s total energy consumption. In addition to producing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, coal burning in China is producing acid rain in other Asian nations, such as Japan, Taiwan, North and South Korea, and the Philippines.

Australia is the world’s biggest coal exporter, and black coal is Australia’s largest export, worth around $A24.5 billion in 2005-06, according to the Australian Coal Association.

In addition to providing Australian consumers with affordable electricity, coal underpins the international competitiveness of the entire Australian economy, the association says on its website.

After a November 2007 meeting to prepare for the early global deployment of carbon dioxide capture and storage technologies, Australian Coal Association Executive Director Ralph Hillman said, “Australian coal producers were leading the way on developing a portfolio of demonstration clean coal projects through the world’s first industry-levied $1 billion COAL21 Fund.”

COAL21 is a partnership between the coal and electricity industries, unions, federal and state governments and the research community. It started in March 2003 when the Australian Coal Association issued invitations to participate in a process aimed at first identifying and then realizing the potential for reducing or eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from coal-based electricity generation in Australia.

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