AGL Energy has revealed plans to build a state of the art carbon capture plant at its Torrens Island gas power station near Adelaide, Australia’s largest natural gas-fired generator.
The utility has partnered with French-based industrial gases company, Air Liquide, to develop the facility, which is expected to capture and purify up to 50,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions from the 1280MW power station’s exhaust a year.
The CO2 recovered from the plant will then be used in applications including the carbonation of beverages, carbon dioxide snow for the wine industry, waste water treatment instead of using acids, and in public swimming pools.
There was no mention, however, of how CO2 recovery at the plant might be affected after 2017 – the year AGL plans to retire more than one-third of the capacity of Torrens Island, which it bought in 2007 for $417 million.
AGL said in December 2014 that it would shutter four out of eight of power station’s generating units – a group of the plant’s “older units” (built nearly 50 years ago) known collectively as ‘A station’, with an aggregate capacity of approximately 480MW.
“Based on the current market outlook AGL has decided that the Torrens Island A station will be mothballed in 2017,” said AGL Group general manager of merchant energy, Anthony Fowler, adding that the decision would be reviewed if those conditions – including rising gas prices – changed materially.
Regardless, the Torrens carbon recovery plant will be the first of its kind in South Australia to capture CO2 from existing emissions, and the first to capture carbon from a power station for the CO2 market in Australia.
The project also fits with AGL’s recent corporate makeover, which has seen the establishment of a renewables-focused New Energy division, the launch of an energy storage product, and the release of a Greenhouse Gas Policy, committing to decarbonisation of its electricity generation by 2050.
“Innovative processes such as the Air Liquide CO2 recovery plant will be critical in helping reduce emissions from the electricity generation sector,” said AGL managing director and CEO Andy Vesey in a statement on Thursday.
In Victoria, AGL has a post combustion capture pilot plant at its Loy Yang coal power plant that’s been operating since 2008, with plans to build a second at the site by the end of 2015. Both Victorian plants are part of a carbon capture storage research project with the CSIRO.
Construction will begin soon on the SA plant, which is expected to be operational by the second half of 2016.