Germany’s upper house blocks Berlin’s carbon storage plan

23 September 2011 17:28  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Germany’s upper legislative house on Friday blocked, for the time being, a government proposal that would have allowed the construction of carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects to test the technology.

The proposal did not get a majority in the Bundesrat, which represents the interest of Germany’s states. Some states, responding to residents' concerns, have argued that CCS projects could pose dangers – including the uncontrolled escape of gases.

A number of chemical and industrial gases firms – including BASF and Linde in Germany, and WR Grace and Air Products in the US – are looking to CCS technologies as a business opportunity.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s federal government is looking to CCS as an option to fight climate change. The government had plans for two or three storage sites to test the technology.

CCS gained in potential importance following Berlin’s decision earlier this year to phase out nuclear energy by 2022 – a move that implies more reliance on CO2-emitting coal power.

Commentators said Merkel could, in a next step, appeal to a mediation committee between the Bundesrat and the lower house, the Bundestag, to find a compromise. Alternatively, the government may withdraw the proposal and draft a new law, they said.

The state government of Schleswig-Holstein, which declares itself as “vehemently opposed” to CCS projects, said it remains dissatisfied despite the Bundesrat’s move on Friday.

Schleswig-Holstein had proposed legal provisions that would have allowed the states to reject such projects, regardless of the federal government’s plans. However, that proposal did not find a majority in the Bundesrat, either.

“The state government remains firm in its position and will use all political and legal means to block CCS projects in Schleswig-Holstein,” said Peter Harry Carstensen, the state's minister president,

Germany's environmental lobby group, BUND, welcomed the Bundesrat's move. BUND called on the government to abandon the CCS technology because it is unproven and risky, it said.

For more on BASF, Linde and other producers visit ICIS company intelligence

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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