News from China has revealed that the trend of installation of carbon dioxide (CO2) capture facilities for power plants is on the rise.

This trend is aligned with the pledge of Premier Wen Jiabao to reduce carbon intensity, or the amount of emissions produced per unit of GDP, by 40% to 45% – an assurance made at the Copenhagen conference.

A recent CO2 capture facility is located at the Hechuan Shuanghuai Power Plant in Chongqing, capable of processing 50 million cubic metres of flue gas from the coal-fired power plant (which is less than 1% of the total flue gas). The production capacity is up to 10,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

The system is invested in, designed and built with domestic equipment by Yuanda Environmental Protection Engineering Company Ltd, a subsidiary of China Power Investment Corporation.

The CO2 capture facility is just the beginning of an experimental, comprehensive treatment complex, which also carries out desulphurization and removal of nitric oxides and mercury. Total investment of the project is thought to be around RMB12.35m (US$1.8m approx).

According to Mr Cao, Director of Environmental Protection Information Department of China Power Investment Corporation, the cost for each tonne of CO2 captured is only RMB394 and the selling price in the region is about RMB620. Therefore the profit each year can reach RMB2.26m with a payback period of 5-6 years only.

Designed by Xi’an Thermal Power Research Institute, the first CO2 capture facility for power plants was built in Beijing with a production capacity of 3000 tonnes of CO2 per year. The facility was built for the Beijing Cogeneration Power Plant under the Huaneng Group, put into operation in July 2008 and with efficiency of carbon capture of around 85%.