Life Cycle Assessment - Video Transcription

Steve Murphy [00:00:23] So my specialist subject today is lifecycle assessment. But I guess before kicking off I should really acknowledge the work that's been done by the researchers, which is the guys at Radboud University in the Netherlands and, unfortunately, neither Rosalie [van Zelm], who is the lead researcher, or Frans [Brands] could be here today. So I've had to do my own research to figure out what it is all about. And it's kind of a tricky concept in many ways. What it's endeavouring to try and do is to address the question Kirsty posed in her welcome address to try and understand what on earth is happening in the round, whether it's the energy balance or the CO2 balance. Does it all make sense for a more holistic perspective? And so the team there have done some great work over the last 12 months or so to understand what the impact is in terms of the carbon footprint, which is the metric that we chose to look at. So I think just for completeness we've got some contact details so I will endeavour to answer questions during the next panel session. But if you've got any more detailed queries or those that I can answer, Rosalie would be delighted to take them. We should also take the opportunity to mention Heleen de Coninck, who was supervisor in all of this and then some of you may recognise the name as a key contributing author for many of the IPCC reports that you've seen dotted around the place. And so you've got some folk with some very good bona fides. 

 

Steve Murphy [00:02:03] I guess. The key task really was to in the jargon I guess try to assess what the carbon footprint is for three different scenarios. I'll come back to just what we mean by carbon footprint in a moment. But firstly this really winds back all the way to what Alan was talking about in terms of the expansion options. We've got this on the left hand side, this reference case, how to start small and build the reference case if you like with one carbon capture facility essentially then a couple of build out cases. So in our language, a conservative case of just over 8 billion tonnes per year then a more optimistic one which is around about double that. And you can see the number of facilities there as we progress. But I guess stepping back, so what do we mean by carbon footprint? I think in this case it's trying to estimate the amount of CO2. Strictly speaking the amount of greenhouse gas and converted into a CO2 equivalent number, if you like. So what's the warming potential of those different gases from a CO2 perspective? So what's the CO2 emissions content of building one facility? Twelve facilities. Twenty nine facilities. So in terms of the steel that's used, for instance, the coal or the gas that's used in all of the processes in the manufacturing, in the assembly and the transportation, installation, the operation. Finally, a hot topic that Keith touched on, the decommissioning of all of that. 

 

Steve Murphy [00:03:39] So it's looking at it through the whole of the lifecycle and then in some ways it's fairly simple. It's just a three-step process, so what are the bits of kit that you need so that the pipes, the wells, the process facilities and so on - how much CO2 is created in the manufacture of the infrastructure components and then into using it. And then finally it was just simply calculating that over the right time period which we'll touch on any moment. The process - and as I've learnt today there is actually an ISO standard so 1404, for those of you that are interested - it's a standard methodology. Not aware that it's been applied to CCS projects in the past but it's been applied to many other situations. Standard methodology. And so you can look at and calculate many different sorts of indicators are our prime one has been the carbon footprint system we're looking to just sense check that carbon capture and storage does actually make sense from a CO2 emissions perspective and then you can look at that from a few different perspectives. So we chose to look at three indicators, if you like. 

 

Steve Murphy [00:04:52] Firstly looking at the impact on human health and ecosystems and then a concept around resource scarcity. And the time frame for all of those indicators and the impact simply for the calculation just a shade over 60 years for the two expansion scenarios. The reference case is a little bit shorter just because it's smaller. So human health. So again it's a disability adjusted life years, DALY is the acronym for that and it tries to calculate the impact and things like respiratory diseases, cancer, malnutrition and other kinds of illness related issues. In the ecosystems, this is the loss of species whether it be freshwater, marine or terrestrial species, it's the loss of those over that period. And the resource scarcity in some ways is, for me, feels a little bit more esoteric. So the basis of it is that all resources are finite. So if you use some resource now, the pool of resources is less in the future and it's more difficult. And really the analogy I think is around low-hanging fruit. 

 

Steve Murphy [00:06:12] So when you can pick the apple tree or plum trees you go for low hanging fruit first because it's easier, it's more accessible. As you've used all that resource you need to get the ladder out, expend a little bit more effort to reach the higher fruit, carry it down further, etc. Oil and gas analogies, you start onshore U.S. , you move to onshore Middle East, you get into the North Sea, you go deep deepwater West Africa and eventually you get into the Arctic. It's always doing the easiest, cheapest things first. So resource scarcity is the jargon really that the scientists in this area used to describe that increase in the cost of extraction as the resource pool itself decreases. So, in the matrix we're seeing on the left hand side, the kind of the main metric, if you like, so a carbon footprint then those three indicators are just mentioned and they're in the three cases. So I think rather than go through all of the twelve boxes I'd simply say that for a carbon footprint indeed CCS is very impactful. It does reduce the amount of CO2 that's emitted at least 50 percent and for some of the bigger scenarios you get effectively some economies of scale and it's heading towards 70 percent over that time frame. The impact on health compared to not doing CCS is a reduction of impact on human health so less damage to human health by the numbers you see there. Again, the biggest scenario is around about 50 percent reduction compared to not doing CCS. And a similar story for the impact on species lost. Of course, in order to do CCS, you're building plants using predominantly gas to regenerate the chemicals et cetera. So you're using resources. So there's a resource demand, which is why there's an impact on the resource scarcity of around about 20 pounds per tonne captured, transported and stored. We actually did this in two steps. We did the first sweep and then we had a look at the results and thought, that's a lot of energy. Why is all that being used? You dig into some of the assumptions and actually some of the assumptions are kind of standard - the process called Recipe 2016 - and you look into the assumptions about the amount of heat that is assumed to be required to capture one tonne of CO2 - four gigajoules - and then we spoke to our colleagues at Carbon Clean Solutions. What's your process using, which is tried and tested, it's used in India, it's used throughout Europe. It's actually 2.3. So almost half. So already the technology has evolved in terms of the efficiency in terms of the resource impact. So it's good for the climate. 

 

Steve Murphy [00:09:10] And of course using less energy there's a huge economic benefit as well. There's an economic imperative here that is becoming a little bit more apparent. The results that we showed earlier are with the technology we're planning to apply on Acorn and elsewhere. And so it's really about how can we do better, really, so of course it's all about using less resources. So be more efficient in the capture or practice more innovative ways of doing that. The biggest source of resource I guess was in the heat which is predominately gas and you need to do that in order to regenerate the amines. The capture process that was used was one of amine solvent. In order to keep using the amine you need to heat it basically and use a lot of gas in that process. Another component of the calculation assumption was that any of the heating that was provided to regenerate the amines, the CO2 resulting from that was not captured. Clearly, that's a relatively easy process improvement. The final conclusion is that the project Acorn CCS leads to major reductions in all of those indicators, possibly apart from the use of resource, so less impact on human health, less impact on ecosystems. So CCS is good. It's good to have that shown in a different perspective. For me, it's good to see it demonstrated in the round in a different way.