Image

How NZ could become a decarbonisation world leader

23 May 2022
Energy is the double-edged sword at the root of the climate crisis. Cheap energy has improved lives and underpinned massive economic growth. But because most of it comes from burning hydrocarbon fuels, we’re now left with a legacy of high atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and an emissions-intensive economy.

But what if we could flip the energy-emissions relationship on its head? We would need a technology that both generates electricity and removes CO2 from the atmosphere. The good news is this technology already exists. What’s more, New Zealand is perfectly positioned to do this “decarbonisation” cheaper than anywhere else on the planet.

And the timing couldn’t be better, with the government’s first Emissions Reduction Plan calling for bold projects and innovative solutions.

We research how to burn forestry waste for electricity while simultaneously capturing the emissions and trapping them in geothermal fields. Since forests remove CO2 from the atmosphere as they grow, this process is emissions negative.

This also means a carbon “tax” can be turned into a revenue. With New Zealand’s CO2 price at an all-time high of NZ$80 per tonne, and overseas companies announcing billion-dollar funds to purchase offsets, now is time for cross-industry collaboration to make New Zealand a world leader in decarbonisation.

Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage

Artificial carbon sinks are engineered systems that permanently remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) achieves this by trapping the CO2 from burned organic matter – trees, biowaste – deep underground. An added bonus is that the energy released during combustion can be used as a substitute for hydrocarbon-based energy.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said climate mitigation pathways must include significant amounts of BECCS to limit global warming to 1.5℃. However, the technology is still new, with only a few plants around the world currently operating at scale.

Cost is a major barrier. New projects need expensive pipelines to move the CO2, and deep injection wells to store it underground. Because CO2 is more buoyant than water, there are also concerns that any gas stored underground might leak out over time. This is where geothermal fields can help.

Geothermal systems for BECCS

Geothermal is a reliable source of energy in New Zealand, supplying almost 20% of our electricity. We use deep wells to tap into underground reservoirs of hot water, which then passes through a network of pipes to a steam turbine that generates electricity.

Afterwards, the water is pumped back underground, which prevents the reservoir from “drying out”. New Zealand companies are world leaders at managing geothermal resources, and some are even experimenting with reinjecting the small amounts of CO2 that come up with the geothermal water.

Herein lies the opportunity. Geothermal systems already have the infrastructure needed for a successful BECCS project: pipelines, injection wells and turbines. We just need to figure out how to marry these two renewable technologies.

We propose that by burning forestry waste we can supercharge the geothermal water to higher temperatures, producing even more renewable power. Then, CO2 from the biomass combustion can be dissolved into the geothermal water – like a soda stream – before it is injected back underground.

More >>

Source: theconversation

Read More
Image

FIEA wood residues conference: time for action

Low carbon economies, extreme weather events, and building resilient domestic supply chains are critical issues in 2024 and beyond. In New Zealand, this has created opportunities for the forestry sector, including significant investments in forest residues. Harvesting regulations are mandating more wood be collected from the forest ...
Read more
Image

Successful trials of remote-controlled wood chip scraper

Nippon Paper, trucking company Iwakuni Sangyo Unyu successfully trial remote-controlled robot that scrapes wood chips in hold of wood-chip carrier at Iwakuni mill; scraping robot aims to address safety, workforce shortage in wood-chip scraping operations Through the development of the ...
Read more
Image

When it all falls down

This video tells the story of how New Zealand Forest Managers (NZFM) in Turangi, New Zealand dealt with a 3.4million + ton wind blow event in the central north island. In the video everything from before the cyclone in Feb ...
Read more
Image

NZ$300 million torrefied wood pellet planned

Plans to build New Zealand’s first plant to produce low emissions fossil free fuel to replace coal have moved a step closer with the signing of an agreement to lease a site at Kawerau. Australian listed company Foresta has announced the signing of ...
Read more
Image

Blenheim company turning wood chips into graphite

In New Zealand, a Blenheim company is turning wood chips and sawdust into graphite to be used in EV batteries. CarbonScape was founded in 2006 – with a focus on making carbon products using waste biomass like wood chips to ...
Read more
Image

Cheese from trees: Fonterra running on wood biomass

Fonterra’s Stirling manufacturing site is celebrating becoming the Co-op’s first manufacturing site in the South Island to get off coal and the first site to be running on 100% renewable thermal energy.  Moving to wood biomass means a reduction of 18,500 tonnes ...
Read more
Image

99% of Northland’s energy could be met through biomass

A new report, published by EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority), shows the significant role currently unutilised, forestry residues could play – as the region reduces its reliance on fossil fuels in favour of renewable energy. Up to 99% of Northland’s ...
Read more
Image

NZ forestry industry establishing pan sector body

Ten organisations have signed an accord establishing as a pan sector body. Called the NZ Forest & Wood Sector Forum (NZFWSF), NZ sector associations will engage on issues of common interest or concern to the national industry and act as a ...
Read more
Image

Wood biomass boiler swings into action

Fonterra’s NZ Waitoa manufacturing site is now using around 50% less coal as its new wood biomass boiler swings into action. Waitoa is the third Fonterra manufacturing site to reduce coal in 2023, as part of the Co-op’s plan to ...
Read more