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News – What`s happening in energy research

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© GFZ
Demonstration projects for capturing carbon dioxide making progress
08.07.2011

Bundestag passes CCS Act

The Bundestag (German parliament) has voted in favour of promoting CCS technologies for storing carbon dioxide from power plants and industrial facilities (CCS = Carbon Capture and Storage). The German government wants to test the underground storage of carbon dioxide, whereby the CCS Act is intended to facilitate this. The respective technology is already being tested on a small scale in Brandenburg. Research projects concerned with capturing CO2 in coal-fired power plants are being conducted throughout Germany with the aim of reducing climate-damaging emissions to almost zero from 2020.

The German parliament has approved the “Act for demonstrating and utilising technologies for capturing, transporting and permanently storing carbon dioxide”. It is planned to supplement this with a comprehensive database that details options for utilising the subsurface of the Earth, particularly for generating geothermal energy. CCS technologies in particular offer new prospects for preventing CO2 emissions into the atmosphere from industrial plants and power stations. They are intended to help achieve the climate protection goals and to ensure secure, efficient and environmentally compatible energy supplies and industrial production.

However, as the government concedes in the bill, CCS technologies are still in the development stages and “therefore need to be investigated on a large scale in terms of their economic and technical feasibility and their harmlessness to human health, nature and the environment.” Therefore, in order to test the technologies, the government feels that it is necessary to create a legal framework that “regulates the investigation, construction, operation, monitoring, decommissioning and transfer of responsibility for demonstration storage systems and regulates the connection and access to carbon dioxide pipelines and carbon dioxide storage reservoirs.”

Projects produce successes

In Ketzin in Brandenburg, the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) is storing CO2 on a trial basis that has been captured on an industrial scale at the test plant belonging to the “Schwarze Pumpe” power station. The CCS pilot plant in the Lusatia region has been running for more than 8,000 operating hours and has been visited by over 6,000 people from more than 50 countries. It utilises the oxyfuel process in which coal is combusted with highly concentrated oxygen and without nitrogen. It is also possible to capture the CO2 after the combustion. For example, the Coal Innovation Centre in Niederaussem near Cologne has been conducting a research project on CO2 scrubbing since 2009. A further pilot plant is testing another scrubbing process at the Staudinger coal-fired power plant in Hesse. All plants capture more than 90 per cent of the CO2 from the flue gas stream. An overview of the research being conducted on the new power plant generations is available online at www.KraftwerkForschung.info.

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