NOBEL LAUREATE CALLS FOR INCENTIVES TO CAPTURE CO2 AT GLOBAL ENERGY PRIZE SUMMIT

During the Global Energy Prize Summit, which took place at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany on 10 April 2019, international experts, including Nobel prize laureates, warned that more has to be done in terms of investment and policy if the Paris commitments to reverse climate change were to be taken seriously. 

The event was organised by the Global Energy Association, which grants a EUR 530,000 annual award to distinguished scientists thriving to meet global energy challenges since 2002.

One of the previous winners of the award and Nobel prize laureate Rodney John Allam, known for his Allam power cycle to convert fossil fuels into mechanical power while capturing CO2, flagged the “depressing” BP Energy Outlook forecasting that the share of the fossil fuel use would not necessarily change by 2040. 

According to the most optimistic scenario of the Outlook, in spite of the large increases in the use of renewables, the primary energy demand would still be met by fossil fuel in 2040, especially considering the growing energy demand in countries, such as China and India. 

Professor Allam, a Member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), pointed out recently approved contracts by China to build new coal-fired power stations to produce 259 gigawatts of energy - the equivalent of the entire energy capacity of the US. 

Given the long operating life -approximately 40 years - of these power stations, their sustainability could be assured by conversion to power stations using clean technologies, such as oxyfuel, according to the
scientist.

Professor Allam is of the opinion that European governments should provide incentives for CO2 storage as they did for renewables, such as wind and solar power. Given that wind and solar power are volatile and cannot be stored, it would be imperative to develop new technologies for carbon capture, utilisation and storage.

Power plants based on the Allam cycle are already being built in the UK and the US and are expected to be operational in the mid 2020s. These zero-emission plants are expected to produce low-cost electricity estimated at 6 cents per kilowatt. 

The plants will be run by oxyfuel, created with the injection of a small portion of oxygen into CO2, which circulates in a two-stage compression system under high-pressure with the help of a turbine and a heat
exchanger. 

At the end of the cycle, the CO2 is produced as either a high-pressure fluid for pipeline transportation or as a liquid for shipping in tankers. The scientist pointed out to the fact that the liquid CO2 could be exported to oil-exploring countries who could improve the efficiency of their operations by applying high-pressure CO2 in their extractions. 

The US recently introduced a tax credit to boost the carbon capture and storage or to use CO2 to extract oil from existing wells.

Despite forecasts claiming that there will be no real penetration for electric cars or hydrogen power cars in the near future, Professor Allam also highlighted the possibility to utilise the Allam cycle to produce hydrogen fuel for vehicles. Commending the revolutionary nature of these new technologies, the Nobel prize laureate described them as “individualised power stations” able to provide energy for household and transport needs.

In his view, global protests on climate change led by students might be influential on raising awareness but they would not be meaningful unless sustainable finance to encourage clean investment, including subsidies and tax breaks for CO2 storage, is put in place to keep the global temperature rise below 1,5 degrees Celsius. Especially considering that the rate of the rise in temperatures has been reportedly increasing during the last 4 years.

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​Eli Hadzhieva

​Eli Hadzhieva

Eli Hadzhieva studied economics and political science at the Middle East Technical University, the University of Manchester, King’s College London, Sciences Po Paris and the École Nationale d’Administration.  

After joining the OECD as a consultant and serving at the AFET, DROI, LIBE and INTA Committees of the European Parliament as a parliamentary attaché, she founded EURELIZ EU consultancy company and Dialogue for Europe ASBL in 2012-2014.  

She elaborated expert studies on the role of the EU in international organisations, digital economy and European elections while writing articles in multiple languages for the Parliament Magazine, Euronews, Le Soir, l’OBS, Revue Études Européennes, Euractiv, EUobserver, New Europe etc. in various topics, including the European Neighbourhood policy, human rights, security and defence, radicalisation, immigration, trade and climate change.

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