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European Law Monitor newsCommissioner Piebalgs launches pioneer underground CO2 storage facility in Germany

On 12 June 2007 the Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs took part in the official launch of a test CO2 storage facility in Ketzin, Germany. This pilot installation • the first of its kind onshore in Europe • will provide valuable knowledge on the practical aspects of underground storage of CO2 from power generation. As CO2 emissions from power generation are a major source of greenhouse gases, the project is an important step in the EU's fight against climate change.

"The Commission believes that underground storage of CO2 may contribute to the technological progress that should make Carbon Sequestration and Storage becomes a reality after 2020. Today, Europe is taking an important step in making this goal reachable", said Mr Piebalgs.

The project aims to develop the basis for underground storage of CO2 in a saline aquifer at the depth of around 1,800m. It will test different ways of injecting CO2 underground and establish reliable practices for monitoring the long-term stability of stored CO2. The project represents the core of a research project on CO2 storage in Europe called "CO2SINK". The EU is co-funding its estimated €30 million budget with a contribution of €8.7 million under the EU's 6th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.

Given the EU's ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30% by 2020, the European power sector will need to drastically reduce the amounts of CO2 resulting from the use of fossil fuels. The possibility of capture and geological storage of CO2 (CCS) represents one of the options, with the potential to achieve substantial carbon dioxide reductions at acceptable cost levels in the coming decades.

The results of the Ketzin pilot project will be important for the further development of technologies for environmentally safe underground storage of CO2. It will also provide an important insight for the future formulation of European policies in this field. The Commission is assessing the options for stimulating the construction and operation of 10-12 industrial-scale demonstration power plants by 2015, which should prove the commercial viability of CCS-equipped coal and gas fired power plants by 2020 at the latest. These demonstration power plants will be the first to draw heavily on the experience from Ketzin.

Reproduced with the permission of the European Commission REF IP/07/825