RWE chief reiterates need to develop CCS

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A senior manager of one of Europe’s largest utilities says that without more impetus in developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, any genuine efforts to seriously limit an increase in global carbon emissions are set to fail.

Dr Hans-Wilhelm Schiffer, head of RWE’s general economic policy unit told Power Engineering International that he was sure that “in countries like China, CCS will be developed in the future; otherwise we can forget about any significant reductions of CO2 emissions in these countries. In China coal consumption will increase in the future and without CCS it is not possible to limit the increase in CO2 emissions.”

Dr Schiffer is due to chair a session on global coal power outlook at the forthcoming World Energy Congress in Daegu, South Korea in October and while emphasising the continued significance of coal power to global energy security, he is keen to proclaim how essential it is to keep developing CCS, given the reality of an energy future, where coal remains a staple.

 Dr Hans-Wilhelm Schiffer “CCS is a particularly cost efficient measure to reduce emissions in comparison with some renewable options, but it’s not a question of either renewables or CCS or energy efficiency - you need them all. You need increased efficiency in coal-fired and also other fossil-based power plants.”

“The three options for effectively tackling climate change are to increase renewables, increase energy efficiency and thirdly promote carbon capture and storage.I am confident that a reduction of CO2 emissions is possible after 2020 if international agreements can be reached, and cost-efficient market instruments such as an emissions trading system are being implemented.”

“The main message would be, No discrimination against coal as an energy source. Use the cap and trade system which provides the right price for CO2and you will set the right signal. This will also have an impact on the future development of CCS technology.”

In his October presentation Dr Schiffer is to cite different forecasts carried out by the likes of , ExxonMobil and BP as well as scenario studies by the World Energy Council, the International Energy Agency, the US Energy Information Administration and Shell to back up the contention that coal will continue to play an important role in the global power mix.

Frost & Sullivan have produced a recent support that concluded that only the successful commercialisation of carbon capture and storage would reignite coal projects development in Western Europe.

Dr Schiffer wants to see government take firmer steps to establish CCS than is currently the case.

“Governments ought to provide the necessary framework in order to accommodate CCS in Europe too and there are possibilities to capture CO2 but also to store it; if there is challenges to it onshore, there should also be opportunities for it offshore and for this reason a European initiative to drive capture and storage needs to be implemented not just for power plants but also for industry.

“If you want to reduce CO2 emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 - which is a real EU goal - then CCS is one of the most efficient means of doing that. If you don’t trust CCS climate change mitigation policy is even more expensive than it can be or it should be.

Amongst the main questions that Dr Schiffer, along with speakers from Russia and China and consultants such as Wood McKenzie will address at the World Energy Congress are: What are the main drivers behind coal demand? How will it be impacted by shale gas? Which of these drivers carry the highest degree of uncertainty, what are the latest developments in the clean coal front?

During these sessions there will be particular interest in the Russian and Chinese strategies for coal-fired power into the future.

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