The Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute (GCCSI) recently ran an article in follow up to the Brown Coal Innovation Australia Coal Drying and Handling Forum held in Melbourne last month.
The article, by GCCSI Senior Project Manager Dennis Van Puyveled, provided an overview of the forum and highlighted the synergies between drying lignite and carbon capture and storage (CCS) endeavours.
Featuring Coldry as an example of such a drying technology, Van Puyveled touched on the importance of delivering meaningful CO2 abatement via a portfolio approach:
“Reducing emissions is a portfolio approach. Many organisations often promote the use of a portfolio approach to reducing emissions in order to ensure that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere does not exceed 450 ppm . The technologies often talked about are CCS, energy efficiency, nuclear, fuel switching and renewables. However many of these technologies tend to be promoted within certain industries. Indeed, drying of brown coal is a way to improve energy efficiency but it has implications on other technologies such as carbon capture. All these technologies need to be developed in parallel to identify and work with the synergies between the technologies.”
The other standout observation centred on the ‘banker vs. technologist viewpoint’ and the need to ensure the techno-economic modelling is appropriately developed and understood so financiers can assess risk accordingly:
“The first thing the financiers will consider is the financial model. i.e. does it make sense. Then they would proceed to determine whether the technology would deliver as estimated. This is difficult for first of a kind technologies such as coal drying but also carbon capture since the financial world does not have experience with these technologies. Hence they are considered as high risk – from a financiers perspective anyway. Focussing on achievements at pilot and demonstration plants is essential to make the case.”
Coldry commercialisation has followed an iterative development pathway in engineering terms. At each stage of development and validation from lab-scale, through to pilot scale and now on to demonstration scale, ECT has constantly refined the tecno-economic modelling to drive accuracy in design and hone the subsequent financial assumptions around capex and opex to better reflect expected financial performance at commercial scale under conservative market conditions.
While a demonstration project on its own is never intended to deliver commercial returns, the validation of the process, its product and the commercial expectations at scale will underpin the due diligence by financiers considering funding future Coldry plants.