Vattenfall Launches CCS Pilot

Vattenfall Launches CCS Pilot

A project being touted as one of the world's first carbon capture and sequestration pilots will be commissioned next week in Germany.

Swedish utility company Vattenfall will fire up the $100 million CCS plant that will turn lignite coal into an oxyfuel that will get injected into a former natural gas field, BBC reported. Vattenfall wants CCS to be fully commercialized by 2020.

The company spent more than two years bringing the project into its pilot phase. The oxyfuel boiler will separate and squash the carbon dioxide into a sliver of its original volume. It will then be forced deep into the earth.

"We are very proud -- we think this is the future of coal," Hubertus Altmann of Vattenfall told the BBC.

CCS is often touted as a way to address climate change while taking advantage of coal, a cheap and abundant resource. But since building and operating CCS plants comes with a hefty price tag, critics warn the money could be better spent on energy efficiency and renewable energy. There are also questions about the storing the CO2 securely without harming underground aquifers.

The EU hopes to have as many as a dozen CCS demonstration plants fired up during the next few years but questions remain regarding funding.

Vattenfall said in May it planned to build a CCS demonstration plant at its Jänschwalde plant in Brandenburg that will begin operation by 2015.

"After the inauguration of the pilot for a CCS plant in summer 2008, the demonstration plant on an industrial scale id the consistent next step," the company said in a statement in May. "At the same time, the company takes care of a secure supply with electricity and heat from Germany's most important resource: lignite."

Vattenfall has set a goal of reducing emissions 50 percent by 2030 through CCS, customer-related energy efficiency efforts and promotion of a global climate initiative it founded.