It will be the first time large-scale power generation uses coal capture and sequestration (CCS) technology to keep CO2 from contributing to global warming. Vattenfall has invested around €70 million in the Schwarze Pumpe plant in Spremberg with the hopes of making coal – long out of favour because of the greenhouse gases it releases – a viable energy source again.
The plant, if successful, would be an important milestone towards producing electricity with nearly no CO2 emissions. Vattenfall is running the entire CCS chain for the pilot project – power generation by burning the abundant brown coal found in the region, filtering and liquefying the CO2 produced, and transporting and trapping it in underground storage facilities.
But the technology is not without sceptics. Tom Kirschey from the German environmental group NABU said on Monday that the safety of the underground storage had not yet been proven and that CCS can't be the only solution towards combating climate change.