[permaculture] BBC NEWS | Europe | Germany plans C02-free power plant

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lfl at intrex.net
Wed Jul 6 01:40:26 EDT 2005


Last Updated: Saturday, 2 July, 2005, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
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Germany plans C02-free power plant
By Tim Mansel
BBC News

*The search for a coal-fired power station that does not give off any 
carbon dioxide has taken a step forward with the announcement of plans 
to build such a plant in Germany.*

Coal-fired power station
Vattenfall already operates a coal-fired power station in Germany

Vattenfall, a Swedish company, which owns mines and power stations in 
Germany, plans to start construction next year.

"We believe coal has a future," says Markus Sauthoff, who is leading the 

"But this is linked to the carbon-dioxide trading system."

"It's likely that there will be quite ambitious emission reduction 
targets in the future, and that the price of CO2 trading certificates 
will be quite high, as a kind of penalty for the use of fossil fuels in 
power plants," he says.

"So we need to try to reduce our CO2 emissions."

*Pilot project*

Mr Sauthoff admits that "carbon-dioxide free" is something of a misnomer.

Burning coal inevitably produces carbon dioxide. The idea is to capture 
the carbon dioxide before it is released into the atmosphere and then 
store it in a safe place.

The technology now being developed by Vattenfall is designed primarily 
for use with lignite, or brown coal, which is one of eastern Germany's 
primary mineral resources.

Its use in power stations has long been controversial, because of the 
high level of carbon dioxide it emits in comparison with other fossil 

Vattenfall is to build its new plant at Schwarze Pumpe, south-east of 
Berlin in the state of Brandenburg, where it already operates a 
conventional coal-fired power station.

The new plant will use what Vattenfall is calling the Oxyfuel process.

"In a conventional power plant we burn lignite in air, which is about 
75% nitrogen," explains Markus Sauthoff.

"But in the Oxyfuel process we extract the nitrogen and burn the coal in 
almost pure oxygen combined with some of the flue gases, which are 
re-circulated into the furnace."

"Today we're testing single components of this at the university level 
but to stick all the different parts together and to try to operate them 
in the most effective way will be the task of the pilot plant."

*Climate issues*

Oxyfuel is not the only method of capturing CO2 that's currently being 

There is another so-called "pre-combustion" method, which involves 
turning the coal into gas before it is burned, and then producing 
hydrogen that can be used in fuel cells.

Environmental groups say relying on coal fuel is a bad idea

A "post-combustion" method involves the chemical "scrubbing" of the 
gases produced by burning coal, to extract the carbon dioxide.

Markus Sauthoff admits that it is not yet clear which method will prove 
to be the most efficient and economically viable.

"But Vattenfall does believe that Oxyfuel will be the most favourable 
and this is why we've decided to build the pilot plant," he says.

The company has come in for criticism from environmental groups for its 
continued investment in fossil fuels.

Gabriela von Goerne, a climate campaigner for Greenpeace Germany says: 
"I don't think Vattenfall is taking climate issues seriously."

"They want to move on with coal technology, which ultimately is a dead 
end. The best choice would be to concentrate on renewable energies and 
put renewable energies in the energy mix of Vattenfall."

Vattenfall says it plans to have the 40m-euro plant in operation by 2008.

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