After the China State Council previously iterated that the country would reduce its ‘carbon intensity’ by 40-45% by the year 2020, compared to 2005 emission levels, the country’s first carbon capture and storage (CCS) project has been launched.

This target was affirmed by Premier Wen Jiabao at the Copenhagen conference held last year, as he explained to world leaders at the UN climate change conference that China had made unremitting efforts at cutting emissions – although difficulties would lay ahead.

Now, the first CCS project in China has been launched and undertaken by the country’s largest coal producer, the Shenhua Group, at its Ordos coal-to-liquids (CTL) plant in Inner Mongolia.

It represents the first CCS project in China and among the first projects undertaken in the developing countries. It is claimed that when the plant is put into operation, this CCS project could be the largest in the Asia region.

Carbon dioxide will be captured in the production line of the coal-to-liquids plant and then purified, before it is liquefied and transferred to the storage site 17km away and 3000m underground.

The investment for the first phase of the project is around RMB 210m, with commissioning of injection of carbon dioxide starting at the end of 2010 and around 100,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions to be saved. It is believed that China has surpassed the US to become the largest carbon emission country and that 80% of the carbon dioxide emission comes from burning of coal – largely because China still depends on coal as its primary energy.

The project will be a demonstration of the CO2 treatment technology and technological support to future projects in China, laying a path for aggressive investigation of the coal-based low carbon energy system for China.