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German CCS Bill Details, Initiatives

14.04.2011 -

Germany on Wednesday relaunched legislation to back further development of carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) needed for coal-to-power generation.

CCS is meant to protect the environment as CO2 no longer gets trapped in the atmosphere but the economics of the method are questionable as additional space and more energy is needed for the process, and power plant efficiency decreases.

Other countries exploring the technology include the United States and Australia as would-be exporters target coal-burning markets such as China.

Below are details of the draft law and initiatives by German utilities to test CCS at their installations in recent years, which have been partly held back by the legal impasse.

Details of The German Draft Bill

 - Storage is limited to demonstration. Applications must be filed by the end of 2016. The annual storage volume must not exceed three million tons of CO2 per site and 8 million tons for the country as a whole.

 - Potential uses of the sites for geothermal or energy storage are protected so that CCS does not take away land from other possible uses.

- Operators must prove the long-term safety of the facilities to avoid the state being burdened with unclear risks from unsafe storage units.

- Operators must be able to finance the entire investment cycle from exploration through to the start of full fledged operation and follow-up support.

- CCS sites and pipelines will fall under mandatory CO2 emissions trading.

Leading Companies' Initiatives:

Vattenfall Europe

The Swedish-German utility group is ahead with trying to explore CCS technology for cleaner coal production from lignite, a brown coal type it mines and burns in eastern Germany. It is testing and oxyfuel process at its Schwarze Pumpe power station and has a demonstration plant for post combustion CCS at its Jaenschwalde power plant, one of Europe's biggest CO2 polluters.

Vattenfall wants a commercial-size CCS plant there to be partly subsidized by the EU and has made relevant applications. It has taken preparatory steps at its boilers and set aside money for exploring geological structures like saline aquifers for their suitability to house CO2.

RWE

A pilot plant at the Niederaussem brown coal plant has seen success in using novel solvents for CO2 scrubbing, according to partners RWE, chemical firm BASF and Linde . When CCS legislation failed in 2009, RWE put on ice its planned CCS plant at Huerth of a commercial size of 450 MW, which it had wanted to install by 2014.

E.ON

E.ON launched CCS testing jointly with Siemens at its Staudinger plant near Frankfurt in the autumn of 2009 and is also testing CCS in the Netherlands, Sweden and Britain. But during the legal delays it has been prevented from taking decisions on crucial next steps for the process, which runs with flue gas from Staudinger's unit 5 in a so-called post-combustion capture procedure.

This is meant to suit the first generation of CCS plants as existing coal plants can be fitted with it.

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