Germany to try out carbon storage technology
The controversial technology aims to store CO2 produced by power stations in geological chambers such as disused oilfields, rather than letting it escape into the atmosphere where it contributes to global warming.Berlin -- The German government cleared the way on Wednesday for pilot projects to test the viability of siphoning off carbon dioxide churned out by coal power stations and storing it deep underground.
The technology, known as Carbon Storage and Sequestration (CCS), aims to store the CO2 in geological chambers such as disused oilfields, rather than letting it escape into the atmosphere where it contributes to global warming.
Supporters say that with the large majority of the world's power generated by using fossil fuels -- a situation set to remain so for many decades to come -- CCS would buy mankind time while cleaner technologies are developed.
But critics say that CCS, which is in its infancy, is impractical on a large scale and is potentially dangerous. And at present it is only possible to fit the technology onto new power plants, not to "retrofit" it on existing ones.
"Coal-fired power stations only have a future if they can become less harmful to the environment. CCS could offer a solution. We now have to see whether the technology can work on an industrial scale," German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said.
He said that a review of the pilot projects planned in Germany and elsewhere would take place in 2015 "in order to determine whether CSS is a feasible option technologically and financially speaking," the environment ministry said in a statement.
Across the European Union there are plans for 12 pilot plants, including three in Germany. The bill passed by the German cabinet on Wednesday is aimed at harmonising German law with European legal guidelines.
The bill on CCS passed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's government on Wednesday now goes to parliament for approval -- a near certainty as the two parties in the governing coalition have a majority of seats in both chambers.