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EU Utilities Expect Governments to Pay Carbon-storing Costs

Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Article Type: Cited

European power producers expect governments in the 27-member European Union to contribute about a third of the costs to develop carbon-dioxide storing technology, one of Germany’s largest utilities said.

Financial support from EU governments is “essential” to developing new technology and helping to start pilot projects to capture CO2, Rainer Knauber, who heads Vattenfall Europe AG’S politics and policy operations, said in an interview in Berlin.

Carbon dioxide is a by- product of burning fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal and oil. Investments in the capture of CO2 and storage will be worth several billion euros through 2020, Knauber said Wednesday.

Germany and other countries that depend on coal for generating electricity are counting on developing cheaper and cleaner technology to allow them to continue using the most abundant fossil fuel for energy. The costs of transporting and storing greenhouse gas underground probably will make financial support from governments necessary for at least 12 more years, Knauber said.

Negotiators from 190 countries are discussing ways to reduce carbon emissions that add to the world’s pollution at United Nations-sponsored talks now under way in Poznan, Poland.

Trapping carbon, however, is an unproven technology that aims to extend the use of fossil fuels and “won’t be ready in time to save the planet,” the environmental group Greenpeace said in May. The process uses as much as 40 percent of the energy generated by power stations and may raise already high energy prices, it added.

Vattenfall, RWE AG and E.ON AG, Germany’s largest power companies, are proposing a law that will provide guidelines for carbon capture and storage technology. The companies are pressing for passage by parliament by July to improve investment conditions.

The law includes provisions, many sketched by the European Commission, the EU’s regulatory body, that cover safety and environmental issues as well as who is responsible to look after CO2 underground storage facilities after they fill up. Germany already has three carbon storage projects under way.

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