EU makes carbon-capture moves

The European Union is taking the first steps in a process to help China and India develop technology to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) and store it underground, Reuters reported. The consultation process -- on how finance and technology should be delivered to China and later India -- could be critical in securing their commitment to a new global climate deal in Copenhagen in December.

“China builds, every year, as much coal-fired power plant as the entire UK generating capacity,” said a report prepared for consultations with industry and seen by Reuters on Friday. It added: “Unless a way can be found of making this climate-compatible, we can never meet our climate objectives, regardless of what action we take in Europe.”

While the technologies exist, utilities are reluctant to build carbon capture and storage (CCS) power stations without public funding because the CCS component adds more than US$1 billion to the cost of each power plant. CCS is seen by some as a potential silver bullet to curb emissions from coal-fired power plants.

But most environmentalists oppose spending public money on the technology, saying it is untested and utilities already make huge profits while driving the planet towards irreversible climate damage. Worldwide, CO2 emissions are multiplying rapidly, threatening to heat the earth’s atmosphere to dangerous levels.

Reuters said the EU-China Near Zero Emissions Coal (NZEC) proposal initially will tap into about 60 million euros (US$84 million) of existing development funding, but also will seek support from industry and taxpayers. It is likely, the report said , that the CCS component of the Chinese NZEC demonstration project alone will cost about five times that amount.

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