Near Zero Emissions Coal (NZEC) - Project Profile

Near Zero Emissions Coal (NZEC), China

The joint UK-China near Zero Emissions Coal (NZEC) initiative addresses the challenge of increasing energy production from coal in China and the need to tackle growing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Carbon dioxide emissions from China’s increasing coal use are set to double to more than 5,000 million tonnes per year by 2030 [IEA World Energy Outlook 2007].

The EU-China NZEC agreement was signed at the EU-China Summit under the UK’s presidency of the EU in September 2005 as part of the EU-China Partnership on Climate Change. The agreement has the objective of demonstrating advanced, near zero emissions coal technology through carbon capture and storage (CCS) in China and the EU by 20201. The UK-China bilateral NZEC initiative was developed in support of this wider agreement.

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The UK and China envisaged a three-phase approach to achieve the NZEC demonstration objective. Phase 1 has explored options for demonstration and the build capacity for CCS in China. Phase 2 will carry out further development work on storage and capture options leading to Phase 3, which will construct a demonstration plant by 2015.

Phase 1 is supported by funding of up to £3.5 million from the UK Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, DECC (formerly the Climate Change Group within the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Energy Group from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR)), and is being taken forward in partnership with the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).  For details on the consortium of UK and Chinese experts involved in the project, click here.

Phase 1 of NZEC involved a two year work programme to help build capacity for CCS technology in China, develop stronger links between Chinese and British experts, study a range of options for CCS and coal-fired power generation in China. Phase 1 began in November 2007 and ends in autumn 2009. Its scope was developed through extensive consultation between the UK and its Chinese partners, including a major international workshop in Beijing in July 2006.

Phase 1 objectives are to:

•   Enable knowledge transfer between Chinese and UK parties (academic, industrial and other).
•   Model the future energy requirements of China, taking CCS technology into account.
•  Produce case studies of potential carbon dioxide capture technologies.
•     Build capacity in China for evaluation of storage potential for CO2 and undertake preliminary screening of potential sites suitable for geological storage of CO2.

Knowledge sharing with other CCS initiatives has been a key activity for the project.  NZEC has worked particularly closely with the COACH project (Cooperation Action within CCS CHina-EU). This project, which is partially funded by the EU under the 6th Framework Programme, aims to prepare the ground for implementation in China of large-scale polygeneration energy facilities with options for coal-based electric power generation as well as production of hydrogen and synthetic fuels. These facilities require CO2 capture and geological storage (including use for enhanced oil or gas recovery). COACH addresses three issues:
•    Coal gasification for appropriate polygeneration schemes with CCS.
•    Identification of reliable geological storage of CO2 in China.
•    Funding mechanisms, regulatory framework and public acceptance.