Bloomberg News

Europe Risks Gas Plants ‘Unready’ for Carbon Capture, Group Says

March 27, 2012

Most of Europe’s gas plants may be “unready or unable” to handle carbon capture and storage equipment by 2030 if nations don’t act now to encourage use of the technology, an environmental think tank said.

Countries with the greatest potential for CCS including Germany, Italy and the U.K. should spearhead efforts this decade to fit the equipment at gas plants, according to a report from the London-based Green Alliance.

Without action in the coming years, about 60 percent of gas-fired stations may be unable to use the technology that gathers emissions from fossil fuels for permanent storage underground, the report said.

“There is an historic opportunity,” Chris Littlecott, lead author of the report, said today by phone. “If gas CCS can come in and succeed in a way that coal CCS has failed, that’s an opportunity the gas sector would be wise to take up.”

The U.K. scrapped a contest to fund the first CCS demonstration project at a coal-fired plant developed by Iberdrola SA (IBE) last year because of funding. The government is poised to start a new 1 billion-pound ($1.6 billion) program that will include gas-fired plants. Energy Minister Charles Hendry said in January natural gas is “the single most important fuel” in the U.K. energy mix.

“In many respects, gas for CCS offers much more value in terms of output, reduced emissions and flexibility,” Littlecott said. CCS at gas plants could reach 50 gigawatts to 100 gigawatts of capacity by 2030 provided nations increase ‘policy actions’ this decade, according to the Green Alliance.

The group recommended policy makers develop more incentive programs, prioritizing gas plants with CCS over those without, as well as projects demonstrating CCS at gas plants.

Nations should also require capture “readiness” assessments on new gas plants permitted from 2012 while the European Commission should prioritize gas CCS demonstration projects in the second phase of its NER 300 program to assist renewable technologies and carbon capture, the report said.

To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Sally Bakewell in London at Sbakewell1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net


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