On a mission to deliver clean energy innovation in South Korea

Dr Seongjun Lee of SK Innovation

The REALISE project has welcomed a new industry partner, South Korea’s SK Innovation, further boosting the consortium’s role in helping Mission Innovation countries achieve net zero emissions.

Mission Innovation, a European Commission initiative involving more than 20 countries on five continents, is working with scientists and industries to deliver affordable clean energy technology, including carbon capture.

In 2019, SK Innovation – part of South Korea’s SK Group of companies involved in energy, petrochemicals and technology – announced its Green Balance 2030 vision, which set out its approach to tackling environmental impact through technological innovation over the next decade.

The company hopes that results from the REALISE project will support its endeavours, particularly, techno-economic assessments of full-scale carbon capture for refineries and studies aimed at joining the dots between CO2 capture sites and transport and storage networks.

Dr Seongjun Lee, SK Innovation’s Head of Institute of Environmental Science & Technology, said: “We’re very pleased to be working with other REALISE partners as we transform our portfolio and follow three strategic new directions – Green, Technology and Global.

“Not long ago, ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ were common terms but they’ve now been replaced by ‘climate crisis.’ Society is strongly demanding the reduction of greenhouse gases and this pressure on companies is now mainstream.”

Unlike power generation or other carbon-intensive industries, where CO2 can be captured from a single point, refineries operate over an area with multiple facilities, or stacks. This means that the sector requires a different approach to carbon capture that is logistically and technically viable as well as cost effective.

Dr Lee explained: “We believe that a way to reduce emissions [in the refinery sector] in the near term is through carbon capture and storage. However, the concentration of CO2 in most refinery flue gases is relatively low and, unlike thermal power generation, emission sources are distributed across a space. Also, there are not many geological CO2 storage options in Korea. Within the REALISE project, we want to evaluate the implications of post-combustion capture from multiple stacks as well as the potential transfer and storage of CO2 overseas.”

He added: “Using the results, we will also be able to show that CO2 capture in refineries is economically viable and, at the same time, communicate with government on support policies and major technological innovations relating to greenhouse gas emissions.”

Dr Inna Kim, REALISE Project Coordinator, said: “One of our key areas of work is on developing CCUS business cases for outside Europe, including Mission Innovation countries, such as Brazil, China and South Korea. This ensures that our results and the tools we develop are useful for refineries of different sizes and complexities. We’re delighted to welcome SK Innovation to our consortium, further strengthening collaboration between research groups in Europe and Mission Innovation countries.”

All photos courtesy of SK Innovation