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KETZIN, Germany European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs Wednesday launched a potentially ground-breaking test CO2 storage facility in Ketzin, Germany.
The European Commission said that the pilot installation is the first of its kind onshore in Europe and that it will provide "valuable knowledge" on the practical aspects of underground storage of CO2 from power generation.
It said that the project is an important step in the European Union's fight against climate change.
"The Commission believes that underground storage of CO2 may contribute to the technological progress that should make Carbon Sequestration and Storage becomes a reality after 2020. Today, Europe is taking an important step in making this goal reachable", said Mr. Piebalgs in a statement.
The project aims to develop the basis for underground storage of CO2 in a saline aquifer at the depth of around 1,800 meters.
It will test different ways of injecting CO2 underground and create practices to monitor the long-term stability of stored CO2, said the Commission.
The project represents the core of a research project on CO2 storage in Europe called "CO2SINK" that has a budget of about €30 million.
"Given the E.U.'s ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30% by 2020, the European power sector will need to drastically reduce the amounts of CO2 resulting from the use of fossil fuels. The possibility of capture and geological storage of CO2 (CCS) represents one of the options, with the potential to achieve substantial carbon dioxide reductions at acceptable cost levels in the coming decades," explained the Commission.
The Commission also said that it is currently assessing the options for the construction and operation of 10-12 industrial-scale demonstration power plants by 2015, which it said should prove the commercial viability of CCS-equipped coal and gas fired power plants by 2020 "at the latest."
"These demonstration power plants will be the first to draw heavily on the experience from Ketzin," said the Commission.