Europe to finance CCS demonstration in China, but where is Norway?

frontpageingressimage_ingressimage_roykogdampCO2-1..jpg Photo: Bellona Archive

Bellona President and ZEP vice-chairman Frederic Hauge said Europe should provide the money backing the crucial pilot project in China. Bellona’s Paal Frisvold, who is on of the leaders of ZEP’s Policy and Regulations Taskforce, spoke out strongly in favour of more Norwegian involvement in shouldering the financial burden should ZEP go forward with funding the project.

Other platform leaders pointed to the necessity of including China and India on equal footing with European industries, where much energy on deploying CCS technology will be focussed. The discussion falls within the larger context of ZEPs efforts to set criteria for those coal-fired plant it wished to include in its so-called “Flagship Programme” to build 10 to 12 CCS demonstration plants by 2015.

The discussions held earlier this month indicate that there is a strong momentum within the ZEP platform to include China on equal footing with its European counterparts for a targeted effort to deploy demonstration CCS technology.

This momentum has lead all the way to the drafting and signing of a memorandum of understanding between China and the EU to develop a coal-fuelled power plant with CCS, although many uncertainties remain about the project.

China is key, but Norway must ante up

“CCS will be a key wedge in mitigating climate change particularly because India and China are well-endowed with coal,” said Frisvold.

“It is unfortunate that Norway does not acknowledge this by committing to the establishment of CCS in these countries.”

It was unanimous during the ZEP discussions – which was organised by the European Commission and the UK Environmental Ministry – that Europe should play the pivotal role in developing the pilot project in China. Frisvold moderated the meeting.

UK committed but needs help

The UK said it is working with China to develop a pilot plant for Near Zero Emissions Coal (NZEC), using CCS.

“The UK is very committed to this, but we will not achieve it without other Member States joining,” said UK Environmental Minister Joan Ruddock at the meeting.

Graeme Sweeny of Shell, a central figure on ZEP, was unequivocal that China must be included.

“China has of course to be part of the Flagship Programme,” he said.

Will India be included in Flagship Programme?

ZEP member Nick Otter of Alstom, the French multinational conglomerate that develops transport and power generation technologies, recommended that demonstration of CCS in China and India should be given the same strategic importance as demonstration in Europe.

Coal is the only abundant and easily available energy source in China and India, meaning they pose equal risks to the environment.

CCS more urgent to curb nuclear power ambitions

This risk could become greater as both countries are active in deals with Russia to build more nuclear power plants to cut their carbon emissions. While nuclear power produces no carbon emissions, it opens up an entirely new venue of environmental concern as no country in the world has yet established a safe way to deal with nuclear waste.

Chinese and Indian ambitions to pursue further reactors in their countries with the help of Russia, in Bellona’s view, will only serve to exacerbate one pervasive environmental problem while attempting to solve another.

CCS technology, whose expense is on par with building new nuclear power stations, must therefore spearhead any carbon reduction efforts in these countries, lest the fight against carbon emissions becomes yet another unfortunate benchmark in the spread of nuclear contamination.

Bellona applauds Europe and prods Norway

Bellona applauds efforts by the UK and the EU to help fund a CCS demonstration plant in China. But, Norway – which thanks to Bellona, is one of the primary proponents of CCS technology domestically – must make commitments along with other European nations to spreading the technology to other countries in need.

Eivind Hoff reported and wrote from Brussels. Charles Digges wrote from Oslo.

Eivind Hoff