CO2 - Capture and Sequestration – A Political Chance for Coal as Climate Protection?
The main cause of global climate change is the burning of fossil fuels, especially coal. The future climate policy will encounter major challenges from an expected substantial buildup of coal fired power plants, resulting from security of supply and production cost reasons. Some experts hope for a clean solution to this problem by turning to Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). The Climate Talk on 24 May 2006 focused on the questions, of whether climate policy can reconcile itself with coal fired energy production by using CCS and what kind of problems and challenges can be expected from this new technology.
Presentations were given on the above theme from Dr. Ottmar Edenhofer (Potsdam Institut für Klimafolgenforschung), Dr. Lutz v. Meyerinck (Deutsche BP AG), and (Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung). Broad consensus held that, as a result of the continuous and growing importance of coal worldwide, CCS will be indispensable for future climate protection regimes. It was pointed out that CCS might not only be useful for coal fired power plants, but also an option, at least technical, for businesses using oil, gas and biomass. At the same time, the participants agreed that CCS alone can not solve the climate problem. CCS technology has to be supplemented by extensive use of renewable energies and increases in energy efficiency.
Some participants showed apprehension resulting from still necessary but possibly protracted research into CCS. Meanwhile a new generation of power plants could be installed that are not CCS compatible and incapable of being retrofitted. In the face of this pitfall, the need for using and furthering short-term climate protection measures became apparent. In this context, the incumbents in the German electrical sector were criticized for not putting enough emphasis on renewable energy in their portfolios. Nuclear energy was viewed critically and rated as unimportant for international climate protection efforts.
Fuel costs and the leakage rate were identified as the main drivers for the development of CCS. Furthermore, the importance of emissions trading was underlined as it creates a price on CO2 and only high CO2 prices would make CCS, from a business standpoint, an interesting option. In this context, the importance was underscored for national and international politics to create binding emissions reductions targets.
Some participants pointed to the yet unresolved question regarding liability as a critical facet for public acceptance of CCS. Moreover, the importance of successful monitoring was emphasized. The need for more research was consistently underscored, including the need for a guiding project.
The animated discussion was eventually moved to a nearby location, where the evening drew to a relaxed close.