Getting into the Details on Carbon Capture and Storage

Like many observers of the Chinese energy scene, including U.S. Energy Secretary Steve Chu, my colleagues and I think that carbon capture and storage is going to be one important tool for both the United States and China in addressing the greenhouse gas mitigation challenge.

We were thus delighted to attend the Asian Development Bank’s launch of its new $21 Million CCS project, focused on ensuring that one specific site near the northern city of Tianjin is ready for a storage demonstration. As we have worked on our CCS regulatory project over the past year, I and my colleagues have been struck by the depth of knowledge in China in carbon capture, and the need for a similar level of experience in actual storage, ensuring that eminently qualified geologists are able to ground-truth. This new project, which involves key stakeholders from the Chinese government and industry as well as a team of international experts, will develop a plan for deploying carbon capture at China’s GreenGen project in Tianjin.

China has recently formed a National Leading Group on carbon capture and storage, led by the Ministry of Science and Technology. While climate negotiators want to see greater commitments from developed countries before discussing widespread deployment, they are interested in and supportive of this new technology, which could help lower GHG emissions from China’s unique, highly coal-dependant energy mix. Chinese Academy of Science’s lead expert on the project, Prof. Jin Hongguang, said quite bluntly: “CCS is necessary for China.”

The focus on one specific site differs from previous projects that have developed a great deal of national policy and technical data. One of the key advantages of this approach is by focusing on one site that the project will be able to get detailed geophysical data, crucial to moving forward with practical plans.