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Global demand for energy is constantly increasing. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated in 2008 that global demand would rise by 45 percent by 2030. Electricity generation from fossil fuels is contributing significantly to the climate change.
Unfortunately, converting to new energy sources cannot be done at the press of a button. The EU alone relies on coal for around 30 percent of its power supply. Experts anticipate that a 170,000-megawatt deficit will have to be bridged with new fossil-fuel-fired power plants. This means that in coming decades, more rather than less carbon dioxide will be emitted by power plants.
Coal power is becoming more environmentally compatible
A good temporary solution is carbon capture and storage of CO2 with CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) technology. Linde engineers are developing and improving technologies for coal-fired power stations to ensure as environmentally compatible use of fossil resources as possible. According to expert analyses, 400 million tonnes of CO2 emissions could be prevented annually in Europe by 2030.
There are three basic procedures for reducing the CO2 in flue gases that results from energy production with fossil fuels like coal and natural gas:
Pre-Combustion or IGCC (Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle): Upstream gasification of coal is combined with pre-combustion separation of the CO2.
Oxyfuel combustion: Combustion with pure oxygen. The coal combusts essentially into steam and CO2 so that the carbon dioxide can easily be separated from the flue gas.
Post-combustion or CO2 scrubbing: The CO2 is separated from the flue gas following combustion by binding it to a scrubbing agent. This technology can be easily retrofitted to existing plants.
Because the CO2 obtained in this manner can only rarely be stored where the power plant is located, Linde engineers are conducting research on storage procedures as well as on transport infrastructures.