European Parliament

MEPs vote to equip power plants to store CO2 underground

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Source: European Parliament

The European Parliament's Environment Committee wants all larger power stations built from 2015 onwards to be equipped with the new carbon capture and storage technology (CCS), which stores CO2 emissions permanently underground instead of releasing it into the atmosphere, it said in a co-decision vote on Tuesday. MEPs had already proposed financing demonstration projects through the revised Emission Trading Scheme, in another vote on Tuesday morning.

To cut their CO2 emissions, industrial installations and power plants could in future use new technology to capture CO2 and store it 'permanently and safely underground' in geological formations, says the Environment Committee its a co-decision report, drafted by Chris Davies (ALDE, UK), on a draft directive providing the legal framework for this new carbon dioxide capture and storage technology (CCS).
 
'Schwarzenegger-clause': future power plants with CCS technology
 
The Environment Committee adopted a new provision, which the rapporteur had termed the 'Schwarzenegger clause', introducing an 'emission performance standard' for new power plants with a capacity of more than 300 MegaWatts. From 2015 onwards those large power plants will be allowed to emit a maximum of 500 gram CO2 per kilowatt hour on an annual average basis, says the amended draft directive. Thus, future power stations might store carbon dioxide underground instead of emitting it to air.
 
Financing of 12 demonstration projects to be secured by ETS allowances
 
To support the financing of large scale commercial CCS demonstration projects, MEPs already adopted an amendment in another vote on Tuesday morning. During their vote on Avril Doyle's (EPP-ED, IE) report on the revised EU Emission Trading System, MEPs introduced the possibility to award up to 500 million ETS allowances to such projects in the EU or in third countries. The value of this support mechanism will depend on the price of CO2 when the gas is eventually buried underground, but according to the rapporteur it could easily exceed €10 billion.
 
Furthermore, the Environment Committee wants the Commission to ensure that contracts for the construction of 12 large-scale demonstration facilities - as promised by the European Council in March 2007 - are let before the UN meeting in Copenhagen in November 2009.
 
Fund for monitoring and remediation of closed storage sides
 
During the period when the CO2 is injected in the underground side, operators will have to pay annual contributions to a fund set up by the Member State where the storage side is located, says another amendment inserted in the draft directive by the committee. MEPs want this fund to cover the costs for monitoring, oversight and remediation after responsibility for a closed storage side has been passed on to the national authority.
 
Operator remains responsible for a closed storage side for at least 50 years
 
The Commission proposed to pass responsibility and all legal obligations for the long-term storage of CO2 from the private operator to the Member State. MEPs, however, want to the operator to be liable for at least 50 years after the storage side had been closed.
 
More time needed for transposition into national law
 
Finally, MEPs want to give Member States not one but two years after the directive's publication to transpose it into their national laws.

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