Some of the most advanced clean tech developments are happening in Europe, where the likelihood of impeding carbon regulation is playing a role in the European Union’s (EU) future power generation strategy. Moreover, increased energy demand and a historical aversion to nuclear energy are causing the EU to consider an old standby: coal.
•According to a 2008 New York Times article, European countries are expected to put into operation about 50 coal-powered plants through 2013, which will be in use for the next five decades.
•Europe’s first coal plant that captures and stores carbon dioxide debuted in Spremberg, Germany last year. The EU plans to get an additional 10 to 15 carbon capture and storage (CCS) plants in operation by 2015. According to a 2008 article from the MIT Technology Review, the information gained from testing a 30-megawatt test plant will be used to scale up to a 300-to-500 megawatt demonstration plant set to go online by 2015—and up to a further 1,000-megawatt commercial plant between 2015 and 2020.
•Emerging Energy Research analysts estimate more than $20 billion will be spent on CCS projects in 2009 with the EU’s investment ranked number one globally at $11.6 billion, followed by the U.S. (at $6 billion).
The EU is currently testing new CCS technologies at a number of plants to help make the systems commercially viable as quickly as possible. Britain’s first large-scale CCS-equipped power plant—the Powerfuel-run Hatfield plant in Yorkshire is slated for construction for 2010 and will be operational by 2015. The plant may also receive funding from the EU.
It’s easy to get caught up in our own energy debates and challenges. But as the EU and other regions have consistently demonstrated, coal-generated electricity and emerging emissions-reducing technologies are playing an important role in meeting growing energy demands with domestic resources.