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Bulgaria wants clean coal power plant

Bulgaria wants investors to build a coal-fired power plant capable of capturing climate-warming gases and burying them underground, energy minister Petar Dimitrov said on Wednesday.

Dimitrov said he had talked with potential US and British investors about building a carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in Bulgaria but did not say whether the government would contribute towards the high cost of building one. Utilities Enel, E.ON, RWE, CEZ, EVN and AES all showed an interest in building a coal-fired unit at Bulgaria’s Maritsa East power station after the government announced plans for a 600-megwatt plant last year.

Now Sofia wants it to be fitted with largely unproven CCS technology, as tighter European environmental regulations threaten to make big emitters pay more or clean up. “We do not want to build new capacity that will be dirty and polluting. And if we have to pay for all C02 emissions from 2012, it may turn out it is also not economically viable,” Dimitrov told a business forum. “We want to have clean energy and this will be the key defining criteria.”

The European Commission thinks CCS could cut the amount of manmade carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by up to a third by trapping and burying emissions from fossil fuel power plants. The technology is seen as a key weapon in the fight against climate change but nobody has built a large-scale demonstration project yet, largely because it is expected to cost about €1 billion ($1.55 billion) more than a standard coal plant. The EC has said it would like to see up to 12 demonstration plants built by 2015 but has not offered any funding, while Britain is running a competition for what is expected to be hundreds of millions of euros in public money to encourage utilities to build one. (Reuters)