China signs clean coal agreement with Australia

Posted: 13 March 2008

In an important step towards a greener global future, Australia and China signed a formal international agreement for clean coal research in Beijing on 6 March.

The agreement, between the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia's national science agency, 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 programme.

Post combustion capture plant
Post combustion capture plant
A post combustion capture pilot plant similar to this one will be installed at Huaneng Beijing Co-Generation Power Plant. Photo credit: CSIRO/ Murray McKean
Post combustion capture (PCC) is a process that uses a liquid to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from power station flue gases and is a key technology that can potentially reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing and future coal-fired power stations by more than 85 per cent.

The pilot plant is designed to capture 3,000 tonnes per annum of CO2 from the power station and begins the process of adapting this technology to evaluate its effectiveness in Chinese conditions.

CSIRO's involvement in this PCC project has been made possible through funding from the Australian Government. The Australian Government is supporting this work through a $A12 million grant, $A4 million of which supports this work in China.

Director of CSIRO's Energy Transformed National Research Flagship, Dr John Wright, said low emission energy generation was a key research area for the Flagship and he welcomes the support of the Australian Government.

"This project is part of a major research programme to identify ways to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector," Dr Wright said.

"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.

"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.

"Our Chinese partners are aiming for the Beijing pilot plant to be up and running before August this year."

Coal accounts for about 70 per cent of China's total energy consumption. In addition to producing the 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.

The installation of the PCC pilot plant in Beijing is a CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship research project and forms part of the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate initiative (APP). The APP programme for PCC also includes a pilot plant installation at Delta Electricity's Munmorah power station on the NSW Central Coast, with an additional Australian site currently under negotiation.

The Energy Transformed National Research Flagship is also undertaking PCC research outside the scope of the APP programme with a $A5.6 million project in the Latrobe Valley, which focuses on brown coal.

Source: CSIRO

See also: Alarming increase in growth of China CO2 emissions.