Feasibility of a CO2 Pipeline Network in Switzerland
In order for Switzerland to reach its 2050 net-zero target, it is necessary to get a detailed understanding of all decarbonization options as soon as possible – including technical feasibility, costs, financing mechanisms, risks, and required regulations. Our previous projects, as well as publications by the Swiss authorities (e.g. Energieperspektiven 2050+) have shown that CCS will play a central role in the decarbonization process. As such, the technology is already available and its feasibility for a first-of-a-kind application has been tested – but a number of open questions surrounding scale-up still remain.
One of the major bottlenecks that is tackled in this project is the collection and transport of large volumes of CO2 across Switzerland and Europe.
A conceptual study for a CO2 pipeline collection network in Switzerland was conducted by the Italian pipeline engineering company Saipem. The goal of the study was to gain a better understanding of the engineering and regulatory feasibility and financing needs of building a large-scale pipeline infrastructure in Switzerland for CO2 transport.
In the scope of this study, emitters from hard-to-decarbonize industries in Switzerland, such as waste-to-energy, cement or chemical, with emission rates above 100’000 tons of CO2 per year were considered (32 in total). Assuming all the emissions caused by these point sources were captured, transport capacities of around 10 Megatons per year could be expected. Conventional transport modes would require an unrealistic number of daily shipments (≈1000 trucks/day, 11 barges/day and 450 rail cars/day) in order to handle the captured CO2, thus the need for a CO2 pipeline network is evident.
5 pipeline scenarios were explored, which differ in regards to the exact routes selected and pressure levels applied. However, certain assumptions hold for all scenarios:
2 final delivery points were defined, from where connections to international pipelines should be possible: Basel (towards the North) and Collombey (towards Italy).
2 pressure options for CO2 were considered: gas phase with a maximum operating pressure (MOP) of 35 barg and dense phase with a MOP of 145 barg.
Regarding the routing, the existing gas pipeline network was followed as much as possible.
Most importantly, it was found that a Swiss CO2 pipeline network with two main trunklines (East and West) connecting the largest emitters is feasible. The main western trunkline was designed to work bi-directionally and to carry parts of the eastern flow rate as well.
The final cost per ton of transported CO2 for each scenario is actually very similar. The values vary between 31.4 €/ton and 34.4 €/ton. Low pressure collection in Switzerland comes with lower costs, however the subsequent export then requires higher compression costs, leading to the similar overall costs for each case.
There are still certain issues that have to be tackled in a second phase. These include critical routing points, compressor station footprint and energy demand. Furthermore, central underlying assumption regarding parallelism with the existing gas pipelines as well as further regulatory issues must be addressed.