9 September 2008

Germany tests coal plant answer to climate change

Swedish energy company Vattenfall opened a small coal plant in Germany on Tuesday which will produce almost carbon-free power in a test of technology that could help the fight against climate change.

The project will produce enough electricity for a town of 20,000 people to pilot a process called carbon capture and storage (CCS), which supporters hope can tackle both energy security and climate change woes.

At 30 megawatts the pilot is still less than one tenth the size of a full-scale coal plant and commercial-scale tests of the technology are at least five years off, analysts say.

"We want to make electricity clean," said Lars Josefsson, chief executive of the Vattenfall Group.

"This is an important milestone. It's going to be a marathon but we're committed."Analysts welcomed the announcement."

Everybody's always criticizing CCS for never having a fully working model. Well here's one fully working model," said Stuart Haszeldine, a geologist at Edinburgh University and CCS expert.

"Maybe by 2013 you could predict a full size power station operating with CCS."

Coal is cheap and plentiful but also produces more heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) than energy sources such as oil, gas and renewables.

CCS works by trapping those gases from coal plants and burying them in porous rocks underground.

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Source: Reuters

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