In an important step towards a greener global future, Australia and China signed a formal international agreement for clean coal research today in Beijing.

The agreement, between CSIRO and China’s Thermal Power Research Institute (TPRI), will see TPRI install, commission and operate a post combustion capture pilot plant at the Huaneng Beijing Co-Generation Power Plant as part of CSIRO’s research program.

Post combustion capture (PCC) is a process that uses a liquid to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from power station flue gases and is a key technology that can potentially reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing and future coal-fired power stations by more than 85 per cent.

The pilot plant is designed to capture 3,000 tonnes per annum of CO2 from the power station and begins the process of adapting this technology to evaluate its effectiveness in Chinese conditions.

CSIRO’s involvement in this PCC project has been made possible through funding from the Australian Government. The Australian Government is supporting this work through a $12 million grant, $4 million of which supports this work in China.

Director of CSIRO’s Energy Transformed National Research Flagship, Dr John Wright, said low emission energy generation was a key research area for the Flagship and he welcomes the support of the Australian Government.

“This project is part of a major research program to identify ways to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector,” Dr Wright said.

“Climate change is a critical issue for Australia and internationally, and we’re delighted to be working with TPRI to help find solutions to this global challenge.

“The project will focus on assessing the performance of an amine-based PCC pilot plant under Chinese conditions. It will allow PCC technology to be progressed in the Chinese energy sector which will have a much greater impact than operating in Australia alone.

“Our Chinese partners are aiming for the Beijing pilot plant to be up and running before August this year.”

Representatives from CSIRO and TPRI attended the ceremony, as did Deputy Head of Mission Mr Graham Fletcher.

The installation of the PCC pilot plant in Beijing is a CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship research project and forms part of the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate initiative (APP). The APP program for PCC also includes a pilot plant installation at Delta Electricity’s Munmorah power station on the NSW Central Coast, with an additional Australian site currently under negotiation.

The Energy Transformed National Research Flagship is also undertaking PCC research outside the scope of the APP program with a $5.6 million project in the Latrobe Valley, which focuses on brown coal.