Despite a draft act on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and
Vattenfall's pilot plant for the fluidization of carbon dioxide
(oxyfuel technique) operated in Brandenburg, it remains still
unclear whether utility companies will see a legal basis for the
permanent storage of carbon dioxide in the near future. Until the
federal elections held on 27 September 2009, the coalition parties
in the German Federal Parliament debated details of the draft. With
a new coalition government of conservatives and liberals now
elected it is still to be decided whether the act will come into
The draft act adopted on 1 April 2009 by the Federal Cabinet
regulates the capture, transport and permanent storage of carbon
dioxide in deep underground rock formations. The act shall grant
operators the necessary planning and investment security for pilot
and demonstration plants. However, they also have to prove, among
other things, that complete retention of carbon dioxide in the
storage site is guaranteed for an unlimited period of time.
Moreover, comprehensive, state-of-the-art precautionary measures
must be taken to prevent risks for humans and the environment.
After a period of 30 years from the decommissioning of a plant, and
thus about 80 years after its start-up, operators may transfer
their responsibility to the Federal Government - but only if they
can furnish proof of long-term safety according to the state of the
art in science and technology. In 2015 the Federal Government will
analyse the experience gathered in demonstration projects at home
and abroad. It will decide to what extent compliance with the high
environmental and safety standards stipulated in the act can be
proven and whether CCS is an option that is technologically and
economically feasible. The draft act transposes the Directive of
the European Parliament and of the Council on the geological
storage of carbon dioxide into German law.
The draft has been welcomed by energy provides but faced strong
criticism from NGOs such as BUND or NABU. They claim that the CCS
technology needs to be investigated further and that it is hardly
accepted due to the risks involved in the long-term underground
storage of carbon dioxide. Also, the Federal Environmental
Authority (Umweltbundesamt) stressed that expectations
regarding CCS should be lowered. According to the authority, energy
efficiency and the use of rebewable energies would lead to better
results in avoiding carbon dioxide.
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