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Prospects of carbon capture and storage (CCS) in China’s power sector – An integrated assessment


  • Viebahn, Peter
  • Vallentin, Daniel
  • Höller, Samuel


Objective: The aim of the present article is to conduct an integrated assessment in order to explore whether CCS could be a viable technological option for significantly reducing future CO2 emissions in China. Methods: In this paper, an integrated approach covering five assessment dimensions is chosen. Each dimension is investigated using specific methods (graphical abstract). Results: The most crucial precondition that must be met is a reliable storage capacity assessment based on site-specific geological data. Our projection of different trends of coal-based power plant capacities up to 2050 ranges between 34 and 221Gt of CO2 that may be captured from coal-fired power plants to be built by 2050. If very optimistic assumptions about the country’s CO2 storage potential are applied, 192Gt of CO2 could theoretically be stored as a result of matching these sources with suitable sinks. If a cautious approach is taken, this figure falls to 29Gt of CO2. In practice, this potential will decrease further with the impact of technical, legal, economic and social acceptance factors. Further constraints may be the delayed commercial availability of CCS in China; a significant barrier to achieving the economic viability of CCS due to a currently non-existing nation-wide CO2 pricing scheme that generates a sufficiently strong price signal; an expected life-cycle reduction rate of the power plant’s greenhouse gas emissions of 59–60%; and an increase in most other negative environmental and social impacts. Conclusion and practice implications: Most experts expect a striking dominance of coal-fired power generation in the country’s electricity sector, even if the recent trend towards a flattened deployment of coal capacity and reduced annual growth rates of coal-fired generation proves to be true in the future. In order to reduce fossil fuel-related CO2 emissions to a level that would be consistent with the long-term climate protection target of the international community to which China is increasingly committing itself, this option may require the introduction of CCS. However, a precondition for opting for CCS would be finding robust solutions to the constraints highlighted in this article. Furthermore, a comparison with other low-carbon technology options may be useful in drawing completely valid conclusions on the economic, ecological and social viability of CCS in a low-carbon policy environment. The assessment dimensions should be integrated into macro-economic optimisation models by combining qualitative with quantitative modelling, and the flexible operation of CCS power plants should be analysed in view of a possible role of CCS for balancing fluctuating renewable energies.

Suggested Citation

  • Viebahn, Peter & Vallentin, Daniel & Höller, Samuel, 2015. "Prospects of carbon capture and storage (CCS) in China’s power sector – An integrated assessment," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 229-244.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:157:y:2015:i:c:p:229-244
    DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2015.07.023

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    1. Koelbl, Barbara S. & van den Broek, Machteld A. & Wilting, Harry C. & Sanders, Mark W.J.L. & Bulavskaya, Tatyana & Wood, Richard & Faaij, André P.C. & van Vuuren, Detlef P., 2016. "Socio-economic impacts of low-carbon power generation portfolios: Strategies with and without CCS for the Netherlands," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 183(C), pages 257-277.
    2. repec:eee:rensus:v:80:y:2017:i:c:p:467-480 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Francesch-Huidobro, Maria, 2016. "Climate change and energy policies in Shanghai: A multilevel governance perspective," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 45-56.
    4. Peter Viebahn & Daniel Vallentin & Samuel Höller, 2015. "Integrated Assessment of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in South Africa’s Power Sector," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(12), pages 1-27, December.
    5. He, Qi & Jiang, Xujia & Gouldson, Andy & Sudmant, Andrew & Guan, Dabo & Colenbrander, Sarah & Xue, Tao & Zheng, Bo & Zhang, Qiang, 2016. "Climate change mitigation in Chinese megacities: A measures-based analysis of opportunities in the residential sector," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 184(C), pages 769-778.
    6. Yi, Bo-Wen & Xu, Jin-Hua & Fan, Ying, 2016. "Inter-regional power grid planning up to 2030 in China considering renewable energy development and regional pollutant control: A multi-region bottom-up optimization model," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 184(C), pages 641-658.
    7. repec:eee:appene:v:206:y:2017:i:c:p:519-530 is not listed on IDEAS
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    10. Guo, Zheng & Cheng, Rui & Xu, Zhaofeng & Liu, Pei & Wang, Zhe & Li, Zheng & Jones, Ian & Sun, Yong, 2017. "A multi-region load dispatch model for the long-term optimum planning of China’s electricity sector," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 185(P1), pages 556-572.
    11. Tapia, John Frederick D. & Lee, Jui-Yuan & Ooi, Raymond E.H. & Foo, Dominic C.Y. & Tan, Raymond R., 2016. "Optimal CO2 allocation and scheduling in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 184(C), pages 337-345.
    12. Pettinau, Alberto & Ferrara, Francesca & Tola, Vittorio & Cau, Giorgio, 2017. "Techno-economic comparison between different technologies for CO2-free power generation from coal," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 193(C), pages 426-439.
    13. Khanna, Nina Zheng & Zhou, Nan & Fridley, David & Ke, Jing, 2016. "Quantifying the potential impacts of China's power-sector policies on coal input and CO2 emissions through 2050: A bottom-up perspective," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 128-138.
    14. repec:eee:appene:v:225:y:2018:i:c:p:332-345 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Lunz, Benedikt & Stöcker, Philipp & Eckstein, Sascha & Nebel, Arjuna & Samadi, Sascha & Erlach, Berit & Fischedick, Manfred & Elsner, Peter & Sauer, Dirk Uwe, 2016. "Scenario-based comparative assessment of potential future electricity systems – A new methodological approach using Germany in 2050 as an example," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 555-580.
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    18. Selosse, Sandrine & Ricci, Olivia, 2017. "Carbon capture and storage: Lessons from a storage potential and localization analysis," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 32-44.

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    CCS; China; Integrated assessment; Power sector; CO2 storage potential;

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