EU lawmakers to mull mandatory CO2 capture by 2025
European lawmakers will consider forcing EU power stations to trap all emissions of CO2 by 2025, when they meet on Monday to discuss new laws on carbon capture and storage (CCS).
CCS is designed to take CO2 emissions from power plants and heavy industry and store it underground, and is seen as a possible silver bullet in the fight against climate change. The environment committee of the European Parliament, which has powers of co-decision with member states, will get its first look at the new proposals on Monday.
CCS could keep up to a third of all carbon emissions out of the atmosphere, but it has not yet been proven on an industrial scale. The EU hopes to have up to 12 such pilot plants running by 2015 and is considering financial incentives and a framework of regulation in the hope of spurring the power industry into action. “I’ll be proposing retrofitting of all fossil fuel power stations with CCS by 2025,” Chris Davies, the MEP responsible for guiding CCS legislation through the European Parliament, told Reuters late on Thursday.
Initial EU Commission proposals on CCS in January stopped short of calling for mandatory measures, which could force some older power stations to close down. “I propose all new fossil fuel power plants authorized to be built from January 2015 be fitted with CCS,” said Davies, adding that it would probably take a further 5 years for those plants to become fully operational.
Davies met with engineers, oil majors, power firms and environmentalists on Monday to discuss the feasibility of his proposals and likely targets. “I found strong support from industry, and had one power plant manufacturer and one power generator saying it’s do-able,” said Davies. “But there’re a number of details to be resolved and the goal is dependent on getting the pilot projects up and running,” he added. The prize for the first company to deliver commercially viable CCS is potentially huge, since China alone is opening a new coal-fired power plant a week and global reserves of coal could last hundreds of years. But the technology is untried at a commercial scale and will initially be very expensive, at around €1 billion ($1.57 billion) per power plant, making it unattractive for individual companies to undertake without support.
Environmentalists are split on CCS, with some seeing it as a vital means of curbing short-term emissions growth, and others arguing it will divert resources away from building truly renewable power sources like wind and wave farms. “Europe’s power generation could be almost carbon free by 2025, but that depends on CCS working,” said Stephan Singer, head of energy policy at WWF in Brussels. “Chris believes it will. We hope it will.” (Reuters)
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