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ESSAY

Roadmap for Australian


Electricity Generation
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Table of contents I
1. Introduction 1
1.1. Australias energy profile 1
2. Carbon capture and storage 3
2.1. CO2 capture techniques 3
2.1.1. Post combustion 3
2.1.2. Pre combustion 4
2.1.3. Oxyfuel combustion 4
2.2. CO2 storage 4
2.2.1. Structural storage 5
2.2.2. Residual storage 5
2.2.3. Dissolution storage 5
2.2.4. Mineral storage 5
2.3. Geological sites 5
2.3.1. Deep saline formations 5
2.3.2. Coal seam 6
2.3.3. Depleted oil and gas fields 6
2.4. Projects underway 7
3. Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) 7
4. Trigeneration Systems 9
4.1. Prime mover 9
4.1.1. Gas powered prime mover 11
4.2. Cooling technologies 13
5. Conclusion 14
6. References 15
I
1. INTRODUCTION
Australia as a nation relies heavily on coal to satisfy its energy needs. This
reliance has led heavy CO2 emissions which are becoming a serious concern.
There is a dire need for Australia to rethink its electricity generation plan for the
future.
This essay proposes a roadmap for the future of Australian electricity generation
taking into consideration various options like renewable energy, carbon capture
and storage and government policies. My proposal focuses initially on the process
of carbon removal and then on trigeneration systems which have better
efficiencies and lower emissions compare to conventional power plants.
1.1. Australias energy prole
The desire for higher life standards and comfort levels along with
technological advancement and growing population in the last three
decades have led to a steep increase in the worldwide energy consumption.
The total primary energy consumption has increased from 4948.66 MTOE
in 1970 to 12476.63 MTOE in 2012. While Africa has the least share of 3.2%,
Asia Pacific leads the energy consumption with 40.01% in 2012. Europe &
Eurasia consumes 23.47% of the total primary energy closely followed by
North America at 21.84% [1].
Conventional fossil fuels are still the dominating source of fuel in 2012. Fig.
2 represents the primary energy world consumption by fuel type and the
reliance on fossil fuels is clear. Oil, natural gas and coal make up for 86.9%
of the worlds fuel usage while nuclear contributes 4.49%, hydroelectricity
6.6% and renewables make up just about 1.9% [2]. As per the Australian
energy update by BREE, the energy consumption by renewables has fallen
by 7.3% from 2010-11 to 2011-12 [3].
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This heavy reliance on fossil fuels has lead to an increase in CO2 emissions.
The global energy-related CO2 emissions increased by 1.9% to 34.47
gigatonnes in 2012 compared to 2011 [1].
Fig. 1. World Primary Energy Consumption by fuel types [4]
30% of the total energy consumption is accounted for by the building
sector. Energy used in buildings is mainly for electric power, heating and
cooling/refrigeration needs [5]. It hence becomes important to reduce
energy usage or increase efficiency. Most of the power buildings receive are
from power plants employing fossil fuels; coal is predominantly used in
Australia. These power plants are known to have high rates of energy losses
mostly in the form of heat. Coal power plants convert 39% of the available
heat to electrical power [6]. Additional losses during transmission along
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with huge infrastructure costs mainly borne by the customers, emphasises
on the need for more efficient and cost effective technologies.
2. CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE
Carbon Sequestration (CS), also termed as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a
method of capturing carbon from industries such as energy or oil and gas
industries, compressing it and then storing it in the earths crust at sufficient
depth to make sure it remains there indefinitely.
It involves various stages, first one being capture, in which the carbon dioxide is
captured from flue gases and other sources using an appropriate process. Once
the carbon is captured it needs to be transported to the required site for storage.
For easier transport, the carbon dioxide is pressurised and liquefied. There
already exists mature technology that is needed for this transport. The final stage
involves injection of the captured carbon dioxide into the earths crust. There are
various mechanisms by which this can be injected. The injected carbon dioxide
can also be used to recover oil and gas that could not be reached during previous
exploration from already exploited gas and oil fields.
There are various natural ways as well to conduct carbon sequestration. Plants act
as a reservoir for carbon dioxide. Increasing plantation can also help in reducing
the carbon dioxide content from the atmosphere.
2.1. CO2 capture techniques
2.1.1. POST COMBUSTION
Separation of Carbon dioxide from other flue gases after combustion
is known as Post Combustion capture. This separation can be done
by solvent absorption or by using membrane or adsorption
technologies.
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Post Combustion CO
2
capture using special chemicals called amines
is the most commonly used process. The CO
2
rich gas (power plant
exhaust) is passed through an amine solution. The CO
2
bonds with
amines, while other gases pass through the solution. This solution
hence has CO
2
captured and is pumped into a stripper where the
captured CO
2
is extracted. The solution containing amines can be
recycled [7].
2.1.2. PRE COMBUSTION
As is the case in Post Combustion capture, Pre Combustion capture
also has various processes like solvent absorption, adsorption and
membrane separation.
Once coal is gasified, the produced syngas then enters an absorption
column. In the absorption column, the gas comes in contact with the
solvent, which absorbs the CO
2
. The CO
2
rich solvent is pumped into
another column known as the stripping column while the other gases
leave out of the absorption column. CO
2
is released from the solvent
by heating it to 120C. The CO
2
that emerges is cooled at the top of the
tower so as to remove traces of water and solvent. The solvent is then
used again for the absorption process [8].
2.1.3. OXYFUEL COMBUSTION
Also known as oxyfiring, it is the combustion of coal in pure oxygen
instead of air, mostly used in conventional steam generator. The CO
2

in the exhaust is highly concentrated due to the fact that no other
gases are introduced in the combustion chamber. This method is
relatively easy in capturing and compressing CO
2
, though it is still in
testing stages [9].
2.2. CO2 storage
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2.2.1. STRUCTURAL STORAGE
When CO2 is pumped underground, as it is more buoyant than water, it
will rise up through the porous rocks. As it rises, it will eventually reach
a layer of impermeable layer of cap-rock under which it gets trapped.
Plugs made of steel and cement can be used to seal the holes drilled to
pump in the CO2 [10].
2.2.2. RESIDUAL STORAGE
Residual rocks behave much like a tight, rigid sponge. As we know that a
sponge has to be squeezed several times before all the air in it can be
replaced with water. Similarly when liquid CO2 is pumped into these
rocks, they get stuck within the pore spaces of these rocks and do not
move [10].
2.2.3. DISSOLUTION STORAGE
CO2 dissolves in salty water, which makes it heavier. This water that has
CO2 dissolved in it and is heavier than the surrounding water, sinks to
the bottom of the rock formation [10].
2.2.4. MINERAL STORAGE
The salt water that has CO2 dissolved in it is weakly acidic and can react
with surrounding minerals forming new minerals. The new minerals
that are formed form a coating on the rocks around it. The process can
either be quick or very slow and it binds the CO2 to the rocks [10].
2.3. Geological sites
2.3.1. DEEP SALINE FORMATIONS
These are underground formations of permeable reservoir rock, such as
sandstone. The formations are covered with impermeable cap rock and
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contain very salty inside. Only at depths below 800m, CO2 formations in
deep saline formations are expected.
They are widely distributed and are frequently close to concentrated
sources of man-made CO2 emissions in cities and industrial zones. There
is a lot of potential capacity available in saline formations across the
world. However, a great amount of assessment work is needed to prove
their suitability for CO2 storage.
2.3.2. COAL SEAM
Coal steam storage involves another form of trapping in which the
injected CO2 accumulates on the surface of in situ coal, thereby
displacing other gases like methane.
Coal seam storage is considered to be feasible when undertaken with
enhanced coalbed methane recovery where in the production of the coal
seam methane is assisted by the injected CO2. Permeability of the coal
seam also impacts the effectiveness of the technique.
2.3.3. DEPLETED OIL AND GAS FIELDS
Depleted oil and gas fields are geologically well defined and well
explored. These are known to have proven ability to store hydrocarbons
over extended periods of time (millions of years). This process is
discussed further in detail in the following sections.
Australia completed in 2011 all elements of its CO2 injection and
storage framework at the federal level for offshore storage. Three of its
states have state-level legislation in place to regulate onshore storage
(Victoria, South Australia and Queensland), and one state (Victoria) also
has a legislative framework for offshore CO2 storage in its jurisdiction.
In addition, The Barrow Island Act 2003 is project-specific legislation
that was enacted solely to regulate the CCS activities associated with the
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Gorgon project in Western Australia. The Western Australian
government is now in the process of developing broader CCS regulation
through amendments to the existing Petroleum and Geothermal Energy
Resources Act 1967, building on knowledge gained from the application
of the Barrow Island Act. [11]
2.4. Projects underway
List of projects underway in Australia [12]:
Callide Oxyfuel Project, Queensland;
CarbonNet Project, Victoria;
South West Hub Project, Western Australia;
The CO2CRC Otway Project, Victoria; and
Gorgon Project, Western Australia

3. ENHANCED OIL RECOVERY (EOR)
Shell has joined a research project exploring CO2-driven enhanced oil recovery
(CO2-EOR) in the North Sea.[13]
We anticipate significant growth in CO2 supplies available to the EOR industry.
Overall CO2 utilisation by CO2-EOR (including both industrial and natural CO2)
will nearly double by 2020to 6.5 bcfd by 2020 from 3.5 bcfd in 2014 [14]
Three phases of oil production exists: primary, secondary and tertiary. EOR is the
tertiary approach, which increases the production from a well up to 75%. Three
main categories of EOR have been found to be of successful application:
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Thermal Recovery To lower the viscosity and improve the ability to flow, heat
is introduced in to the well. The introduction of heat can be done through
injection of steam. Over 40% of US EOR production is done using this method.
Chemical Injection In order to increase the efficiency of water flooding or to
boost the effectiveness of surfactants, which are cleansers that help lower
surface tension that inhibits the flow of oil through the reservoir, long chained
polymers are introduced into the reservoir. This technique is not commonly
used as its effectiveness is unpredictable and high costs are involved.
Gas Injection gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen or natural gas, which
expand in the reservoir, are used. The compressed gas is pumped in and once it
expands, it either pushes the additional oil out of the wellbore or it dissolves in
the oil, subsequently decreasing its viscosity and increasing its flow rate. This
method is widely used as CO2 is readily available and it is cost effective. Nearly
60% of the US EOR production is done by this method.
Fig 3. Schematic diagram of CO2-Enhanced Oil Recovery (Source: http://www.worldcoal.org/
coal-the-environment/carbon-capture-use--storage/ccs-technologies/ccs-technologies-more/)
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The gas injection method discussed above is used for two benefits at the same
time. It helps in storing carbon dioxide while recovering the otherwise hard-to-
recover oil. Once all the oil is recovered and the well is filled up with carbon
dioxide, it can be sealed and it is sure to stay there for a significant period of time.
4. TRIGENERATION SYSTEMS
Trigeneration systems or CCHP (Combined Cooling, Heating and Power) systems
are those which produce electricity, heating and cooling from a single source of
fuel. These primarily consist of a prime mover running on a conventional fuel,
electric generator, a heat recovery system and an absorption chiller for cooling
needs.
4.1. Prime mover
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Power System
Electricity
Heat Recovery
Thermally driven
refrigeration
Heating
Cooling/
refrigeration
Fuel
A prime mover is what drives a trigeneration system. It converts fuels
energy to useful mechanical work. Following is a comparison of various
prime mover technologies available which are primarily divided into two
categories, combustion based and electrochemical based. Some of the
technologies like reciprocating engines and gas turbines are in a mature
stage and widely available, while others are relatively new and in
development stage.
Table 1. Comparison of different trigeneration prime movers [15]
TRIGENERATION
PRIME MOVER
RECIPROCATING
ENGINES
GAS TURBINES STIRLING
ENGINES
FUELS CELLS
Advantages
Efficient part
load
performance
High flexibility
Short start up
time required
Compact and
flexible design
Low
maintenance
levels
Moderate
output heat
temperature
Low noise and
emission levels
Suitable for
domestic
applications
Possibility to
run by
renewables
High electrical
efficiency
Low operation
and noise
emission levels
High output
temperature
Disadvantages
Large number
of moving
parts
High
mechanical
vibration and
noise levels
High emissions
rates
Inefficient part
load
performance
Unsuitable for
intermittent
use and
frequent start/
stop
applications
Require long
start up time
High
investment
costs
Limited
adaptability
variable output
Very high
capital and
investment
costs
Efficient
hydrogen
storage
techniques are
required
Complex
design
Capacity
up to 75 MW up to 250 MW up to 55 kW up to 2 MW
Electrical
Efficicency
25-45% 18-36% 15-35% 37-60%
Overall
Efficiency
65-80% 65-75% 65-80% 55-80%
Lifetime (h)
20000-50000 5000-40000 10000-30000 10000-65000
TRIGENERATION
PRIME MOVER
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4.1.1. GAS POWERED PRIME MOVER
Considering all the above criterions and feasibility, for our analysis
gas powered prime mover is chosen. Though fuel cells have better
part load efficiencies, higher lifetimes and low noise levels, gas
turbines are a better option as they have higher capacities along with
lower investment costs, lower footprints and comparable efficiency.
Fuels used
Diesel, natural
gas, propane,
biogas, landfill
gas
Propane, natural
gas, distillate oil,
biogas
Any fuel
including natural
gas and bio-fuels
Hydrogen,
methanol,
natural gas,
propane
Electrical to
thermal ratio
0.5-1 0.4-0.7 0.15-0.4 0.5-2
Waste heat
temperature (C)
80-200 120-350 up to 85 up to 1000
Thermal output
(kJ/kWh)
3376-5908 3376-7174 - 1900-4431
Part load
efficiency
High Low Moderate Very high
Start-up time
> 10 s > 10 min - > 3 h
Footprint (sqft/
kWe)
0.062-0.47 0.18-0.42 3-6.5 0.5-2
Noise level
High Moderate Moderate Low
Investment costs
($/kWe)
340-1600 450-1500 1300-2000 2500-3500
NO
(kg/MWh)
up to 10 0.1-0.5 0.23 0.005-0.01
CO
(kg/MWh)
up to 650 580-720 672 430-490
RECIPROCATING
ENGINES
GAS TURBINES STIRLING
ENGINES
FUELS CELLS TRIGENERATION
PRIME MOVER
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Also, the lack of maturity of fuel cell technology makes gas turbine
an ideal choice.

Table 2. Key performance parameters and cost estimates [16]
A gas turbine CCHP consists usually of a generator, compressor and
turbine connected by a shaft, combustion chamber, recuperator and
an absorption chiller [17]. A heat recovery system is used to recover
heat from the hot exhaust gas. For different commercial and
industrial applications, various gas turbine systems ranging from
several hundred kilowatts to several hundred megawatts are
available. To serve small scale applications, recently, micro turbines
have also been developed which put out 30 - 400 kW [18]. Systems,
using regenerative Brayton cycle and high speed centrifugal turbo
machines are considered as potential alternatives to the conventional
ICE systems, especially for small scale applications [17]. Gas turbines
are more compact and require less maintenance compared to ICE
based systems. Hot gases released from gas turbines at 250C can
TECHNOLOGY DESCRIPTION CCGT OCGT
Capital costs A$/kW net 1062 723
Construction profile % of capital cost Year 1 = 60%
Year 2 = 40%
Year 1 = 100%
Typical new entrant size MW gross/net 386/374 564/558
Economic life (years) 40 30
Lead time for development (years) 2 1
Average capacity factors 83% 10%
Thermal efficiency (sent out - HHV) 49.5% 35%
Thermal efficiency (sent out - HHV) learning
rate (% improvement per annum)
0.35% 0.30%
Emissions rate per kgCO2e/MWh 357 (gross)/368 (net) 509 (gross)/515 (net)
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easily drive thermally activated cooling technologies like absorption
chillers [19].
4.2. Cooling technologies
Of all the cooling technologies, absorption cooling is mature and well-
established. It has been in use for many years now in numerous cooling and
air conditioning applications. An absorber, generator, condenser and
evaporator are the four main components that make up an absorption
cycle. Absorption cycle uses the heat supplied to compress the refrigerant
vapour while conventional systems would use a rotating device or
compressor. Based on the number of times the heat is utilised within the
system, absorption cooling systems are classified in to single effect, double
effect and triple effect systems. Lithium bromide-water and water-
ammonia are the most commonly used working fluids.
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5. CONCLUSION
The future of our electricity generation does not depend only on the above
mentioned technologies. The technologies discussed above concentrate of
removal of existing carbon dioxide and reduction of emissions immediately.
Carbon capture and storage is of prime importance as we already have critical
amounts of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere which needs to be removed in order
to avert from the extreme consequences of global warming.
Carbon capture and storage alone is not enough as we do not have long supplies of
fossil fuels remaining. Focus also has to shift towards developing renewable
technologies which will be the future. Wind, geothermal and solar energy is most
abundant in Australia and it could hold the key to the future of our electricity
needs if economical electricity transportation methods are developed.
Nuclear energy is also a reliable option for a country like Australia. Australia
possesses vast amounts of barren flat land which are calamity free and ideal for
nuclear plants. The biggest advantage of nuclear energy is the fact that Australia
has substantial Uranium resources, all of which it currently exports.
In conclusion, the future lies in a balanced use of all the available technologies
and also government policies.
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