Sargas still hoping to promote carbon-capture in Malta using gas

Norwegian carbon-capture claims island can capture 85% of its carbon emissions with new General Electric gas turbine.

An artist's impression of the Sargas steam plant on a concrete barge at sea.
An artist's impression of the Sargas steam plant on a concrete barge at sea.

Malta will be able to use gas and capture 85% of its carbon emissions with Sargas's carbon-capture technology, a representative of the Norwegian firm has told MaltaToday.

On the eve of Labour's unveiling of its plan to reduce utility rates - now believed to include the participation of the private sector in electricity generation - Sargas's business development manager Martin Rödén told MaltaToday that Sargas and General Electric had teamed up to deliver clean gas-fired power plants with carbon capture-storage (CCS) technology in the USA.

"This concept has now been launched in North America, and this means that Malta would be able to use gas as fuel and capture 85% of the carbon dioxide, leading to a commercially viable, extremely clean baseload power, with an efficiency of 48% under ISO conditions," Rödén said.

The jury is still out whether Labour wants the novel science of carbon-capture storage in its plan to reduce energy bills, apart from using gas instead of heavy fuel oil to produce energy.

Sargas's plan is to export the carbon that is emitted from a coal-fired steam plant, to be stored into depleted oil wells outside Malta. If a new Labour government does go ahead with the diversification of energy generation through the involvement of the private sector, Sargas may well be interested in advancing its technology in Malta.

"The power market worldwide is a tremendous growth opportunity, as all nations including Malta struggle to reduce their CO2 footprint and emissions while keeping the cost of power production down. The commercial use of CO2 is contributing to cover the cost of clean power, in a yet unseen manner. It is foreseen that Malta may get the benefits of such CO2 use as well," Rödén says,

"Sargas technology is now available with large technology partners such as General Electric for nations that wish to use gas fuel to significantly reduce emissions and generate low cost electricity efficiently."

Roden says Sargas's primary target is the USA, which he has says has "very tough emission limits" for new plants and a demand for carbon dioxide that can be used for 'enhanced oil recovery' - the practice of burying the greenhouse gas underground, usually in exhausted oil and gas reservoirs. This is where - theoretically - Malta would be selling its carbon emissions, and getting money back on its energy production.

But in the rest of Europe, CCS projects have not yet been embraced. In December, the first round of a European Commission contest to fund such projects failed to find a winner because of funding gaps. But one report concluded that CCS can cut the annual cost of meeting the UK's carbon target by €50 billion per year.

"Sargas technology is built around the fact that CO2 capture is much more efficient under pressure, which enables production of power at a low cost, where carbon is capture instead of being released into the atmosphere," Rödén says

The Sargas plant would be composed of a gas turbine and pressurised heat-recovery steam generator, with carbon capture. "The General Electric turbine is the most efficient, simple-cycle gas turbine available in the market, with over 130,000 hours of commercial operation since 2006."

The plant will be dry-docked in concrete, outside the Delimara power plant, equipped to capture carbon emissions and fly-ash which is then carried out by tankers to be stored in depleted oil wells outside Malta.

The ministry for finance's pre-feasibility study by KPMG claims it cannot verify Sargas's claims that it can sell the by-product ash to concrete producers at €40-€60 per tonne.

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The principals involved in this project are heavily involved in pumping oil. Daewoo is one of the largest oil drilling platform manufacturers in the world and heavily involved in oil extraction in general. They need the CO2 gas to assist in pumping more oil from depleted reservoirs, when the natural pressure in most wells eventually dissipates. Therefore, this form of CO2 sequestering is nothing more but a means by which more oil is extracted from the ground. It does nothing to lessen the use of fossil fuels and helping with global warming like some make it to be.
This is very exciting techonology and could potentially save the world from CO2 emission problems - if it works. But it would be a monumental mistake to use this kind of untested technology in little Malta where we depend on only a few sources of powergeneration. We cannot afford to use Malta as a testbed.
Like every con-artist - they keep at it! In the meantime they have no other gullible country that will even give them space on its local papers!