Bundestag Approves CCS Bill

With the votes of the ruling Conservative/Liberal government, the Bundestag (German Parliament) approved the controversial CCS bill, thus transposing Directive 2009/31/EC on the geological storage of carbon dioxide to the extent that CCS demonstration projects can be carried out until 2017.

The Bundestag followed its Environmental Committee’s proposal (17/6507) for the CCS Act (Gesetz zur Demonstration und Anwendung von Technologien zur Abscheidung, zum Transport und zur dauerhaften Speicherung von Kohlendioxid).  The committee’s proposal is based on the government’s draft (proposal 17/575017/6264). 306 MPs voted in favour, 266 against, and one abstained.

The bill provides that applications for demonstration projects have to be made before the end of 2016. Annual storage capacities of an individual site may not exceed 3 million tons of CO2 per year and 8 million tons of C02 in total for all demonstration projects. The government shall report to the Bundestag by 31 December 2017 about the experience gained by the demonstration projects, whereupon the Bundestag shall propose legislative action if necessary.

Opponents of the CCS technology pointed out the possible risks associated with the CCS technology. Due to strong opposition to the technology, two of the states with the most possible storage locations, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower-Saxony, which are both ruled by coalitions involving the Conservative party CDU, had been lobbying for an opt-out clause in the past. This has been opposed by the state of Brandenburg, which has argued that would give other states with more suitable storage locations the right to opt out of exploring a potential climate protection option. In Brandenburg Vattenfall AG operates a oxyfuel pilot plant located near its existing lignite fired power plant in Schwarze Pumpe and wants to open a larger-scale CCS demonstration power plant in Jänschwalde in 2015. The bill now adopted by the Bundestag contains a clause which gives the federal states the right to designate areas for CCS pilot projects as well as areas in which such projects are not allowed.

According to the newspaper Handelsblatt, Vattenfall sharply criticised the CCS bill in its current form. It quotes the CEO of Vattenfall Europe Mining & Generation AG as saying he hoped that the Bundesrat, the legislative body that represents the federal states, will amend the bill. Otherwise Vattenfall would not be able to develop the CCS technology in Germany.

The Bundesrat is likely to decide on 23 September 2011, the energy news service energate reports. As the bill is a so-called Zustimmungsgesetz (“consent law”), it needs consent by the Bundesrat. Hence, an objection by the Bundesrat would mean that the bill could not enter into force. Unlike with so-called Einspruchsgesetzen (“objection laws”), a lack of consent cannot be remedied by another Bundestag’s vote in favour of the bill.  In the Bundesrat, however, the government does not hold a majority.

Sources: Bundestag, Handelsblatt

Related posts: