5 March 2007 – All coal-fired power stations built in the European Union (EU) after 2020 could be forced to capture their carbon dioxide emissions under proposals that EU leaders are likely to adopt at this week’s summit in Brussels.
According to a report published by London’s Financial Times, a senior British official, speaking anonymously, said the wording of the commitment, to be made on 8-9 March, had not been agreed but he was “confident” that European leaders would move towards a 2020 target for carbon capture and storage for all new plants.
The commitment is likely to be extended to gas-fired power plants, to avoid distorting fuel choice. That would mean the entire EU electricity industry would switch to low-carbon generation.
However, the technology to separate carbon dioxide and store it beneath the seabed or in underground caverns has not yet been shown to work on a commercial scale and is expensive. The summit is expected to commit members to about 12 large-scale pilot projects across the EU, to be operational by 2015.
The European Commission proposed the demonstration projects for carbon capture and raised the possibility of the 2020 target in its energy strategy in January.
Also included in that strategy are controversial proposals for breaking up the EU’s large integrated electricity and gas companies, which will not be decided on until later in the year.
But much of the Commission’s programme for tackling climate change, including a target of reducing CO2 emissions by 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020, is likely to be adopted.