France leads way in CO2 technology

The world’s first retrofit of a power plant with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology will begin operating this month in south-western France, the Guardian reported. Total, the French energy giant, has upgraded a gas-fired boiler at a facility in Lacq with CCS technology – a crucial step towards globally reducing carbon emissions from fossil-fuel power plants.


Because renewable energy sources are far from meeting the world’s energy demands, many experts believe that reliable technology must be developed to allow countries to burn fossil fuels without releasing dangerous amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. CO2 is the most common greenhouse gas linked to climate change.


 The 60-million-euro (US$80-million) Lacq project will transport and store 60,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year in the nearby depleted gas field at Rousse – once the biggest onshore natural gas field in Europe, but now almost empty. It is the first to link together all parts of the carbon-capture chain, from burning natural gas to isolating CO2 from flue gases and burying it underground.


Reusing an existing pipeline that has been transporting natural gas from Rousse to Lacq for 50 years, Total engineers plan to push the carbon dioxide from the power plant in the other direction, injecting the gas into the Rousse reservoir at a depth of around 4,500 metres. The Lacq project will run for two years, after which engineers will monitor the Rousse gas field to demonstrate that the CO2 remains safely trapped inside.


A full-scale commercial CCS system remains years away, largely because of the costs involved in its development.


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