When fossil fuels are converted into energy or used in industrial processes, they produce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that currently escape into the atmosphere. While renewable energies are being developed that produce fewer emissions, the abundance and affordability of coal make it a critical resource for shoring up immediate energy shortfalls around the world.
With global energy demand set to climb 50% over the next two decades, it is likely to remain an important resource into the near future. Solid Energy is therefore exploring technologies to control coal's GHG emissions so we can start to meaningfully combat global warming right now.
Why carbon management?
- It will allow New Zealand to make responsible use of its abundant coal reserves, which could secure our domestic energy needs for generations to come.
- Besides controlling the greenhouse gas emissions associated with steel, heat and electricity production, carbon capture and storage could allow New Zealand to responsibly synthesize coal into high-value products such as fertilisers, transport fuels, plastics and pure hydrogen.
- Solid Energy's carbon management programme will help New Zealand develop capability in a globally significant technology that the International Energy Agency says will be vital to the world's low carbon future.
- It will create spin-off technologies that can control other forms of pollution besides greenhouse gas emissions (such as sulphur dioxides and disease-causing particulate matter).
- It will drive environmentally focused projects with collateral benefits for local ecologies.
How does it work?
Carbon management can take many forms. For example it is possible to capture a high proportion of the CO2 produced when converting coal to energy. That CO2 can then be stored underground or re-used in useful ways, such as in greenhouses to promote plant growth. In cases where CO2 is released into the atmosphere, we can offset those emissions by establishing counter-balancing projects that take CO2 out of the atmosphere, such as forestry (biosequestration).
What are we doing?
Solid Energy is investigating gasification technologies that facilitate lower cost carbon capture and storage while an array of separate projects are also investigating carbon capture and storage and biosequestration, including commercial and native forestry.