18 September 2008

Coal-fired plant experiment works

A German coal burning electricity generating plant is successfully capturing and storing all its carbon dioxide emissions.

After two years of construction and an investment of $98 million (€70 million), Vattenfall Europe formally commissioned a new 30 megawatt (MW) pilot plant last week in Germany.

It is on a site adjacent to the Schwarze Pumpe coal-fired power station near Spremberg in Brandenburg.

The mini-power plant is a pilot project for carbon capture and storage (CCS). It is the first coal-fired plant worldwide with the capability to capture and store its own carbon dioxide emissions. The plant will produce 9 tons per hour of carbon dioxide, which the technology will separate, compress, and store underground.

"The pilot plant is a major step on our way towards producing electricity from coal, which is almost emission free. It is the first transition from the laboratory into practice. This step means we are making a significant contribution toward global climate protection," said Lars Josefsson, Vattenfall president and chief executive.

After an extensive testing phase in the pilot plant going on over the next five years, Vattenfall plans to build two demonstration power plants by 2015 with an output of up to 500MW.

The plants will be located in Jänschwalde, also in Brandenburg, where two existing 500MW units will make the conversion to CCS technology.

By 2020, the technology will be fully commercial.