The Willem Alexander plant in Buggenum is a 253 MW gasification plant, which makes it an ideal location to test pre-combustion capture of carbon dioxide. Coal is the main fuel, but these days biomass is co-gasified on a large scale (IGCC). At the pilot, 20 MW slip stream from 253 MW plant will be captured. The CO2 will be captured and examined and then transported back to the power plant. The trial will last two years.
In coal gasification, fuel is first transformed into a combustible gas known as synthesis gas. This gas is then cleaned and desulphurised. Pre-combustion capture technology allows us to also filter out CO2 from the gas. The cleaned gas, rich in hydrogen, is combusted in the plant to generate electricity.
By carrying out the pilot programme at Buggenum, the operators Nuon and Vattefall aims to make pre-combustion CO2 capture suitable for the energy sector and to optimise the process.
Project cost is estimated to be about 40 million euros. The project is supported by the Dutch government with 20 million euros and has also received EUR10 million of funding from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. Vattenfall has applyed for EU support in the NER 300 scheme. It was nevertheless not submitted by the Dutch government on the deadline for member states submissions to the European Investment Bank, as the Dutch government only handed in one submission in May 2011 which was AIR LIQUIDE, a hydrogen project based in Rotterdam.
The project team has worked hard in recent years to prepare this pilot. A substantial research programme is linked to the project. Organisations involved are the ECN, Delft University of Technology and KEMA. Nuon has received a subsidy of EUR 10 million for this by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation.
Timing and further plans
The pilot has been in operation since February 2011 and was officially opened on 15 April 2011.
After successful completion of the pilot, CO2 capture will be applied at the Nuon Magnum power plant in the province of Groningen in the north of the Netherlands. Nuon Magnum is based on the so-called multi-fuel concept, with gasification technology that can generate electricity from gas, coal and biomass. Three blocks of natural gas combined cycle will be built initially, with a second phase adding coal gasification, co-firing of biomass and pre-combustion capture of CO2 for a flexible fuel setup. The first phase is planned to be operational in 2013.