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 force.
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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