Quest Carbon Capture and Storage

How carbon capture and storage can help increase competitiveness through the energy transition

Energy producers and industrial manufacturers are under pressure to decarbonise their operations while providing the energy and products society needs to heat homes, support mobility and enhance quality of life. One approach to addressing this challenge is the effective application of carbon capture and storage (CCS) to carbon-intensive processes.

By Shell Catalysts & Technologies on Jan 18, 2021

CCS can enable the safe extraction, transport and sequestration of carbon emissions to help organisations increase their competitiveness through the energy transition. Companies across industries can benefit from CCS by improving regulatory compliance, receiving carbon tax credits and enhancing the environmental sustainability of operations.

For years, refiners have been utilising captured carbon to enhance oil or gas recovery. Today, companies across sectors are looking into innovative applications of CCS to not only support internal carbon intensity requirements but to add significant value to an end product. Examples include the application of CCS to produce higher-value blue hydrogen, to create lower carbon intensity (CI) fuels or even to aid in the supply of low-carbon electricity to the grid.

Improve regulatory compliance with CCS

In continuation of the Paris Agreement, a large international community has committed to working towards limiting the increase of global average temperatures. There have been ongoing policy efforts to support this goal like the European Green Deal, Germany’s Hydrogen Strategy, Costa Rica’s National Electric Transportation Plan and China’s commitment to carbon neutrality before 2060. One of the primary aims of these agreements is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and approach climate neutrality.

Organisations across industries have many options for managing carbon emissions, including energy efficiency initiatives, fuel switching and process optimisation. In order to meet the demands of the energy transition, no one solution will be sufficient.

CCS in particular provides “one of the most cost-effective solutions available for large-scale emissions reduction” for some industrial and fuel transformation processes, according to an analysis by the International Energy Agency (IEA).1 That cost-effectiveness can be improved depending on taxes on carbon and government subsidies for the development of CCS. The Canadian government, for example, has announced plans to raise carbon tax from $50 to $170 by 2030.2 In the U.S., a COVID stimulus bill passed by Congress in January 2021 includes a tax break for companies for capturing carbon as well as a $2 billion dollar CCS project fund.3

Discover how Shell Catalysts & Technologies is working towards India’s energy transformation

Enhance the sustainability of operations with CCS

The main driver for CCS in industry applications is the affordable sequestering GHG emissions, which voids the atmosphere of the warming potential of those emissions. To put the capture and storage potential into perspective, to date, CCS at Shell’s Quest facility in Alberta Canada has accounted for safely storing over 5 million tonnes of CO2.

The need to jumpstart CCS into wide-scale adoption is accelerating – more than 2,000 operating carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) facilities will be needed by 2040, constituting a 100-fold scale-up in order to meet global climate goals, according to the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario.4 With the aid of government initiatives supporting CCS, organisations are continuing to improve the environmental sustainability of operations by considering and investing in CCS.

Learn more about Shell’s Quest CCS project by watching this video.

The four steps to CCS

There are four central steps to the carbon capture and storage process chain:

  • Capture
  • Compression
  • Transport
  • Utilisation and storage

Every step of this chain is critical to carbon management, starting with the capture of CO2 from industrial emissions. Taking a refining context for example, there are a variety of streams where capturing technologies are relevant to reduce pollution, such as with power production, a fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCCU), a fluid coking unit (FCU), furnace offgas, a sulphur recovery unit, a tail gas offgas unit and a hydrogen manufacturing unit (HMU).

The compression step is enabled by readily available technology capable of compressing emissions to 1,200 pounds per square in gauge (psig) or about 82.7 bar. After compression, the emissions must be transported to a secure sequestration location. Pipelines are the most frequently used solution in this step.

However, there are other CO2 transportation options being explored, such as by Equinor, Total and Shell in the Northern Lights project (part of “Project Longship”) to ship compressed emissions to central storage locations. The final sequestration step stores the emissions safely underground in geological repositories.

Shell Catalysts & Technologies’ CCS applications

Shell Catalysts & Technologies specialises in the capture of CO2 from pre- and post-combustion flue gas from industrial emissions, partnering with organisations for the transportation and sequestration of the captured CO2.

CANSOLV CO2

Shell’s CANSOLV CO2 capture system is proven to capture nearly all the CO2 (99%) from low pressure, post-combustion flue gas.

ADIP-ULTRA

ADIP-ULTRA is used for the pre-combustion capture from flue gas. We have significantly upgraded past solvent performance which offers a step change to the industry’s CO2 removal capability.

Shell Blue Hydrogen Process

Resource holders can diversify their own portfolio with low-carbon products by investing in affordable blue hydrogen production. The Shell Blue Hydrogen Process utilises CCS to capture and store emissions generated during the production of hydrogen while producing large quantities of hydrogen at lower costs and lower carbon intensities versus competitive options.

Access the recording of our on-demand blue hydrogen webinar where our experts discuss the economic advantages of blue hydrogen.

Shell CCS reference projects

  1. The QUEST facility at the Athabasca Oil Sands Project leverages ADIP-ULTRA to capture CO2 from the Scotford Upgrader’s HMU. Those emissions are then compressed and stored safely 2 km underground.
  2. The Boundary Dam power station in Saskatchewan uses the CANSOLV CO2 process to capture emissions from the flue gases of a coal-fired power station and is used for enhanced oil recovery in nearby oilfields. Boundary Dam is SaskPower’s largest coal-fired power station and is a significant source of power for the region.

Each of these projects captures up to 1 Mt/y of CO2 which has an emissions reduction equivalence to taking 250,000 North American cars off the road.

Related Reading: Behind Shell Technologies: CANSOLV CO₂ Capture with Dr. Paul-Emmanuel Just and Karl Stephenn

Increasing competitiveness through the transition

By improving compliance and enhancing the sustainability of operations, organisations can better prepare for a changing energy future and the global emphasis placed on decarbonisation.

It is well understood that CCS alone will not be sufficient to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change. There is no “silver bullet”. CCS must be applied in conjunction with the wide-spread application of renewable power, a more in-depth approach to energy efficiency, the use of alternative non-carbon based fuels and many other pivots we need to make as a society to reach our ambitious energy transition goals.

Retrofitting a plant with CCS does however offer the means to have an immediate tangible impact without the need to completely reconsider the way companies deliver products today. And by relying on the best available science and proven carbon reduction methods, energy producers and industrial manufacturers could increase their long-term competitiveness.

1 “Transforming Industry through CCUS – Analysis.” IEA, International Energy Agency, 2020, www.iea.org/reports/transforming-industry-through-ccus.

2 Brain Platt, “Federal carbon tax to increase to $170 per tonne by 2030 as Liberals unveil new climate plan,” The Chronicle Herald, Dec. 2020, https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/news/canada/federal-carbon-tax-to-increase-to-170-per-tonne-by-2030-as-liberals-unveil-new-climate-plan-530233/.

3 Leslie Kaufman, “Will Covid Stimulus Be the Breakthrough Carbon Capture Has Been Waiting For?” Bloomberg, Jan. 2021, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-04/will-covid-stimulus-be-the-breakthrough-carbon-capture-has-been-waiting-for-kjigd4i0.

4 The Economy Wide Value of Carbon Capture and Storage. Global CCS Institute, Apr. 2020, www.globalccsinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Value-of-Carbon-Capture-and-Storage-V4-1.pdf.