Norwegian CCS developer considers biomass addition

By Luke Geiver | December 12, 2011

The Mediterranean island of Malta may soon combine waste biomass sourced from olive production with carbon capture and sequestration technology (CCS), making the country one of the only in the world to operate on a carbon negative energy balance.

Norwegian-based CCS developer Sargas, will provide the technology and the majority of the funding for the facility. Sargas recently provided Maltese government officials with information describing the CCS technology, partners involved with the potential facility and why the island nation would benefit from a biomass and CCS facility.

According Martin Roden, director of business development for Sargas, other companies involved in the facility include South Korean-based Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. (DSME) and Canadian EPC contractor SNC-Lavalin Constructors Inc. “[The] thermal power market presents tremendous growth opportunities for use of this innovative technology to significantly reduce emissions and generate electricity efficiently,” said Koh Young-Youl, executive vice president of DSME, at the time of the official announcement of the partnership in September.  

Fueled by the waste olive biomass, the CCS technology utilizes pressurized combustion and downstream pressurized flue gas that according to Sargas, is 40 times more efficient than conventional capture without pressure. The use of pressurized combustion units allow for smaller plants, and for every ton of CO2 captured, the price of electricity for capture is roughly $0.02 per kilowatt hour. Information given to the Maltese government indicates that on a base load production comparison, a biomass facility combined with CCS would cost roughly €100 to €130 per megawatt hour, with a zero percent CO2 output. A traditional oil or natural gas facility would cost at minimum €124 per kilowatt hour while producing 65 percent to 80 percent CO2.

Sargas hopes to receive approval from the Maltese government to conduct a feasibility study to look at the possibilities of resizing the CCS technology for smaller spaces and configuring the facility to operate as a CHP plant. If built, the facility would be manufactured in part at a DSME location in South Korea and shipped via barge. According to Sargas, delivery time for a Greenfield CCS facility is 2 ½ to four years, but retrofitting and repowering of older coal fired facilities is also possible. New plants can also be built to operate on a floating or off-shore location. Roden also said that during Sargas’ presentation to the Maltese officials, the Bellona Environmental CCS team also provided information on the commercial viability of CCS, showing that while the price of CO2 is rising, the price of CCS is decreasing.