World’s biggest carbon capture plant unveiled

Europe reiterated its support for carbon capture technology on Wednesday as the world's biggest carbon capture pilot plant opened in Denmark.

The EU-funded CASTOR pilot project will capture carbon dioxide emissions from the coal-fired Elsam power plant, aiming to help researchers improve carbon capture technology, reduce costs, and increase public acceptance of the still controversial way of reducing CO2 emissions.

European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potoènik commented: “The European Commission is committed to a low-carbon future. The research policy of today is the energy policy of tomorrow, which is why projects like CASTOR have such an important contribution to make.”

“By developing technologies for carbon capture and storage, we can reduce emissions in the medium-term as we move to large scale use of renewable, carbon-free energy sources.”

While the EU is committed to carbon emission cuts under the Kyoto protocol, fossil fuels are expected to provide 85% of Europe’s energy needs in the foreseeable future despite efforts to increase the role of renewables in energy production.

The European Commission for Science and Research has been promoting carbon capture technology both within Europe and internationally, with a European platform for technological cooperation launched last December and cooperation on clean coal technologies with the Chinese government established recently.

Capturing carbon dioxide from fossil fuel fumes to then store it in geological structures, such as depleted oil fields or under the seabed, is a solution that takes this into account while at the same time reducing carbon emissions.

Environmental groups have reluctantly accepted carbon capture as a temporary solution to rising greenhouse gas emissions, stressing that it should not detract from the need to switch to renewables. Concerns have also been raised over the long-term security of carbon storage.

By Goska Romanowicz

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