Spremberg clean coal plant

In Germany, Vattenfall is in the process of constructing a 30 megawatt (MW) ‘clean coal’ power plant. The plant will separate pure oxygen from air, burn coal in it, then ship the resulting CO2 to an injection facility 150 miles away by truck. The liquified CO2 will then be injected 3,000 metres underground in a depleted gas field.

The best thing about this project is that it will provide some real data about the feasibility and costs of carbon capture and storage (CCS). A 30 megawatt plant is a pipsqueak compared to the 500 and 1,000 MW coal facilities that are operating and planned. Nonetheless, this smaller plant should provide some useful information about timelines and cost structures. It will also establish how much of the total energy produced by the plant will be needed to produce the oxygen stream, as well as liquify, transport, and bury the CO2.

Too often, governments and industry groups blithely assert that they will sequester 10% or 20% or 50% of emissions by year X. At present, that is a bit like the Wright Brothers describing the economics of a major airline. It is only with the successful deployment of pilot plants that we will discover if ‘clean coal’ is actually a viable low-carbon source of energy or (as I suspect) a high-cost distraction from superior alternative approaches focused on renewables, efficiency, and conservation.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

7 thoughts on “Spremberg clean coal plant”

  1. This will be an interesting test run to see if it causes the water table to be contaminated with hydrochloric acid.

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