3.1 Scale considerations

In order to be cost effective, a facility for capture, transport and storage of CO2 has to be of a certain size. The exact size depends on local and technical conditions, and of course more importantly, on the valuation of the emissions saved, or in the case of BECCS, the value of the negative emissions achieved. Due to the large amount of biomass that is processed in the pulp and bio-fuel industries, as well as the use of biomass for electricity and heat production, there are several medium to large point sources of biogenic CO2 emissions in the world. At many of these locations, BECCS systems could be realised for costs below €100/tonne, and in some cases for considerably lower costs due to pure CO2 emission streams, short transportation distances and inexpensive storage conditions.34

The industry which presently has the largest emissions of CO2 per facility is the chemical pulp production industry. These facilities typically emit 750 000 tonnes per plant annually, with some emitting as much as to 2 000 000 tonnes per year.

Figure 9 M-Real’s facility in Husum, Sweden. Photo courtesy of M-Real image bank

The ethanol industry is seen as another promising source for BECCS. The emissions in ethanol plants arise from fermentation of biomass such as sugar cane or corn. Fermentation results in a pure stream of CO2, which significantly reduces the cost for applying CCS. Plants are typically emitting 50 000 to 300 000 tonnes annually, with a few emitting more than 1 000 000 tonnes per year.

BECCS could also be applied to biomass fuelled power plants, combined heat and power plants, as well as to emerging biomass technologies such as gasification. These applications are today carried out at fairly small plants which are not as suitable for BECCS. There are however a few notable exceptions, where combined heat and power plants emit almost one million tonnes of biogenic CO2 per year.35

Still, the largest biomass combustion and processing plants are typically only one tenth as large as the larger coal power plants being considered for CCS, which emit more than ten million tonnes of CO2 every year.

34 Karlsson et al, 2010

35 Karlsson et al, 2010