Vattenfall's planned CCS demonstration plant is not a sustainable energy solution
(original german text published on 25th october, 2010)
With a CCS demonstration plant at the brown-coal-based Jänschwalde power plant in Brandenburg the energy concern Vattenfall intends to commence in 2015 the large-scale capture of CO2 and its storage beneath a built-up area. EU funding of 180 million euros is earmarked for this project. Following changes to the technical concept, we have evaluated the documents that Vattenfall submitted to the Brandenburg Landtag (parliament) and licensing authorities and come to the following conclusions:
- Vattenfall plans the construction of a new brown-coal-fired power plant at the Jänschwalde site, instead of the previously intended conversion of existing installations to CCS.
- The CO2 reduction objectives for 2020 of the State of Brandenburg, which could hardly be described as ambitious, can now not be met, as intended, through CCS technology. Vattenfall's proposal to offset this through the co-incineration of biomass and an increase in the efficiency of existing installations is inconsistent and not sustainable.
- A massive, climate-damaging extension of the operating life of the existing power plant units at the Jänschwalde site is planned by Vattenfall and threatens to make attainment of CO2 reduction objectives for 2030 impossible. For then, the resettlement of villages for new open-cast mining sites would serve, contrary to all political assurances, the further operation of power plants that have an adverse effect on the climate.
- The maintained 35.3% efficiency of the new power plant remains below that of the existing power plant. Vattenfall attempts to conceal the huge loss in efficiency through the absence of data. Around one-third more brown coal could be required for generation of the same amount of electricity with CCS than without CCS.
- Vattenfall's data proves that CCS technology consumes one additional cubic metre of water for every captured tonne of carbon dioxide. The enlargement of the Jänschwalde power plant increases water consumption even more, and this despite the fact that water in the catchment area of the River Spree is a valuable and scarce resource.
- It is intended that the question of the safety of carbon dioxide capture and permanent storage be excluded from approval procedures for the new power plant. - With the planned mere 95% purity of the CO2 to be stored, Vattenfall will lag from the very beginning behind possible technical possibilities, and this solely on economic grounds.
download the background paper (pdf, 8 pages, 68 kb)