Carbon capture, storage has great potential in Vietnam
  • | VNS | December 19, 2011 04:05 PM

While carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a new concept in Vietnam, the country offers good opportunities for the technology, especially in the energy sector.

Deputy Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's General Directorate of Energy Le Tuan Phong said at a recent conference that as a clean technology, CCS could help Vietnam reduce the emission of carbon dioxide in its efforts to respond to climate change.

CCS is known as a technology used to prevent large quantities of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere, mitigating the contribution of fossil fuel emissions to global warming. Accordingly, carbon dioxide (CO2) from large point sources is captured and then stored in such a way that it does not enter the atmosphere.

Oil fields, gas fields, saline formations, unmineable coal seams, and saline-filled basalt formations have all been suggested as carbon dioxide storage sites. This method involves injecting carbon dioxide, generally in supercritical form, directly into underground geological formations.

In Vietnam, energy generation is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emission, just behind agriculture.

The estimated total primary energy consumption in Vietnam reached 44 million tonnes of oil equivalent last year. As much as 86% of energy consumption was supplied by fossil fuels. More than half of its 21.3 GW total electricity installed capacity was thermal power, hydro power contributing about 34.8% while natural gas power plants contributed 31.4%.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has forecast that the energy sector would generate a total of 224 million tonnes of CO2 from now to 2020. Other industries will contribute 10 million tonnes of CO2 per year.

Meanwhile, so far, every KWh generated by coal releases 0.52gram of carbon dioxide.

Vietnam and the Asia Development Bank (ADB) recently entered into talks about co-operation in CCS application at coal-fired power plants.

ADB Deputy Country Director Andrew Head said that last year, the bank had provided $1,250 million Regional Technical Assistance to four Southeast Asian countries including Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam to evaluate the potential for CCS in the countries' energy sector.

It focused on the oil and gas power sector, coal plants and other industry facilities.

Study findings show that since the country is largely dependent on the use of fossil fuels for power generation, it offers good opportunities for CCS.

Due to a high level of oil and gas production development, there are short-term opportunities for carbon dioxide storage in conjunction with enhanced oil recovery.

Le Dinh Hoe from Vietsopetrol's Research and Engineering Institute said that carbon dioxide injected into declining oil fields can increase oil recovery by reducing the viscosity of crude oil as gas mixes with it.

Moreover, gases including CO2, natural gas or nitrogen are injected to repressurise reservoirs when oil is pumped up while air cannot be used because the oil could catch fire.

Costs associated with capturing, transporting and storing carbon dioxide were high, he said, adding that it was good to impose a tax on greenhouse gas emission to support enterprises involved in clean technology projects.

Findings also revealed challenges for Vietnam to develop CCS including its CO2 storage being offshore, its natural gas processing industry not presently producing pure streams of CO2 and its plan for future coal-fired power plants appearing subcritical.

The two-day conference, titled "Carbon Capture and Storage in Vietnam", was organised by the ADB, the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) and the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

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