Another blow to CCS, as EU power giants bow out of Dutch project | RenewEconomy

Another blow to CCS, as EU power giants bow out of Dutch project

European power giants Engie and Uniper pull out of major Dutch carbon capture and storage project in same week as US project abandoned.


European power giants Engie and Uniper have withdrawn from a test project to capture and store carbon dioxide generated by one of several major new coal plants in the Netherlands, dealing yet another blow to the prospects of “clean coal” technology, in which the Australian government and fossil fuel lobbyists still hold much stock.

Reuters reported this week that the two companies – one of which, Engie, the majority owner of Australia’s Loy Yang B brown coal-fired power station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, and who recently closed Hazelwood, – had told the Dutch government they no longer intended to participate in the CCS project, the biggest of its kind in Europe.


Holland’s economic affairs Minister Henk Kamp said in a statement he would “examine whether legal steps can be taken to recoup” unspecified subsidies paid to the companies if they had not changed their minds by mid-September.

The minister also said that the companies’ withdrawal from the project “changed nothing” in the government’s resolve to develop large-scale CCS demonstration projects.

But the news deals another serious blow to the prospects of carbon capture and storage – held up by some as a lifeline for coal-fired power as the world shifts to low-carbon energy generation – in the same week that the US market’s flagship “clean coal” and CCS project went up in smoke.

As reported on Thursday, the US energy utility Southern Co finally gave up on its much-vaunted Kemper coal gasification and CCS project, after costs soared from $US1.8 billion to more than $US7.5 billion ($A10 billion), and it realised it wasn’t going to work.

On Wednesday, US time, it announced it would cease operations immediately on the coal component of the project, and just use the asset as a gas generator. Shareholders already saddled with $US3.1 billion of losses face a further $US3.4 billion write down if Southern Co can’t convince regulators to pass those costs on to consumers.

Cost is no doubt a key factor in the decision-making of Engie and Uniper, too, although that has not been specified.

According to European environmental NGO, Bellona, it is no surprise that the Dutch project has also been cancelled, with the two companies showing little desire to commit funds to CCS development – even while pouring billions of investment into developing and acquiring renewable energy generation.

“The reason it’s taken so long is that the coal utility companies kept hoping the Dutch government would do it, so they would avoid any blame and could claim they tried.

“Surely to their disappointment, the Dutch government has however made it clear it is serious about industrial decarbonisation and CCS, so they had their hand forced. Those companies actively worked to block any ambitious EU policies that could provide the necessary framework for CCS to become operational in Europe.’’ says Jonas Helseth, Director of Bellona Europa.

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  1. George Darroch 3 years ago

    What are the Netherlands doing?

    • Richard 3 years ago

      They are supporting the coal fired power industry through a very painful death process.
      It is really important that just for the next 10 years or so that coal fired industry is supported by government because renewable/gas/storage/etc hasn’t reached scale yet. Part of that process is creating the appearance that coal power, possibly can be green by sequestration. Everyone with a brain knows that coal is as dead as a door nail and has been for years.
      The biggest concern for government is that investment abandons coal power on their watch leading to short term blackouts. As has happened in southern Australia.

      • Michael Murray 3 years ago

        They bought three new plants online in 2015. How is that managing painful death of coal fire ?

        It seems they will have to turn them off if this article is still correct

        Or maybe not if wikipedia is correct

      • Shane White 3 years ago

        Richard states: “Everyone with a brain knows that coal, as a future energy source, is as dead as a door nail and has been for years.”

        Better let the G7 know Richard:
        “From 2007 to 2015, the G7 collectively provided more than $42 billion in support of coal projects. During this period, Japan—host of the 2016 G7 conference—emerged as the worst offender with $22 billion in support for coal projects. Germany came in second with $9 billion. Perhaps worse, G7 nations are trying to sweep their support for dirty coal under the rug.”

        Are you living in a fantasy?

        • Richard 3 years ago

          No I’m not. If coal stations close down now en masse
          then a lot of people will die.
          That has to be an orderly transition. The global ramp up of renewable is on an exponential up curve and it is killing the business model of fossil generators.
          That is good thing. But only and idiot would let the coal
          Stations close in a disorderly fashion.
          The reality is it will take another ten years at least for renewables plus storage to really start taking over.
          It is not possible to build the renewable capacity any sooner.
          But I don’t see much of future for coal or gas beyond another 15-20 years
          And that is phenomenal outcome.

          • Shane White 3 years ago

            You stated that coal was as dead as a door nail and has been for years. Then you stated it has another 15-20 years of life.
            You confuse me.

          • Richard 3 years ago

            When an energy source that is the main stay of human power only has a decade or two left and that is very clear. That is as dead as a door nail.
            What do you think we are talking about? A Nokia

          • Shane White 3 years ago

            So your “dead as a door nail” is 15-20 years?

            Where did this 15-20 years come from?

          • Richard 3 years ago

            Do you have any understanding of investment in power infrastructure and how it works for coal fired power plants?
            And have you been following what is happening in global investment in power infrastructure?
            Coal plants are closing and they are not being replaced with new ones. They are being replaced by renewable energy.
            What is your point?

          • Shane White 3 years ago

            Stop answering questions by asking questions.

            Anyway, as of Jan 2017 –
            There’s half a terra watt of coal generation in pre-construction.
            There’s 273 giga watts in coal generation in construction.
            There’s 2 terra watts of coal generation in operation.
            During 2007-2015 the G7 invested $44 billion of public money in coal infrastructure.
            Emissions must decline at more than 3% p.a beyond historic precedent and we must somehow sink an amount of carbon equivalent to that sunk over 50 years by the entirety of the world’s oceans.
            And we’re committed to at least 1m sea level rise.

            I know what look’s as dead as dead as a door nail and has 15-20 years left, and it ain’t coal. It’s your food, water, security and civility.

            So what was the source of your figure of 15-20 years?

          • Richard 3 years ago

            You paint a doom and gloom scenario with no answer other than to turn the lights off, I presume. You also fail to account for human adaptability, as if life as we know it will cease with a 2c temp rise. What Tosh.
            China and India are going to use coal for longer. But in Australia which currently relies heavily on coal 2/3rds of coal generators will be closed by 2030. Across the developed world it is similar or better
            Your figures are meaningless. Because even in India and China now renewable plus storage is on parity with coal and they have huge incentives to clean the air.
            Quoting silly statistics that will be out of date next week isn’t helpful.

          • Shane White 3 years ago

            Sorry for quoting facts. If you can lend me your crystal ball sometime I’ll be glad to tell you whatever pops into my mind while starring at it.
            Who mentioned 2C? Though global civilisation is expected to end with 4C warming. See quotes by Kevin Anderson and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber.

          • Richard 3 years ago

            It would be good if people actually processed facts rather than just sprout them because facts change in this space everyday.
            I’m all for speeding up the renewable revolution. The reality is it is happening.
            Physics first, then economics then politics. That is the order of things.
            It is now cheaper better and easier to make power from renewable sources.
            I don’t need a crystal ball to figure out where that leads.

          • Shane White 3 years ago

            In all you’ve stated I haven’t heard a single fact from you.

          • Shane White 3 years ago

            From Coal Swarm’s report:

            Existing plant retirements (Paris 1.5°C scenario): In China, 15,000 MW of capacity is retired annually through 2021, rising to 25,000 per year through 2027, then rising again to 61,914 MW per year from 2028 to 2040. In the EU28 and the OECD, the following capacity is retired annually beginning immediately and ending in 2030: 12,147 MW per year in the EU28 and 33,238 MW per year in the OECD. In the rest of the world, retirement at the rate of 29,716 MW per year begins in 2030 and ends in 2050.

            15 to 62GW/yr retired in China?
            12 to 33GW/yr retired immediately in the EU28 and OECD?

            Then get on with the job of retiring all gas and oil consumption prior to 2050. Additionally we must devise a method of negative emissions of the scale of the world’s oceans at the *same time*, deal with increasing natural disasters, avoid tipping points and AFTER DOING ALL THAT, hope that the fat tail of climate sensitivity doesn’t turn out to be a reality:

            But you knew all that.

            Oh hang on, retiring all this fossil fuel generation will clean the air, meaning the level of CO2 corresponding to 2C will approach 405 ppm (we’re at 409 now). But you knew that too.


          • Richard 3 years ago

            What a load of Tosh. What are you going to do about it, fire the coal plants back up to block the sunlight? Or sit there moaning we are all doomed? If you want to do something positive go and buy an electric car and change your power company to a green energy one. Invest in green energy funds etc etc.
            Posting these charts isn’t telling us anything we don’t know.
            Besides there will be some benefits from global warming. Cold areas will be more productive and there will be more rainfall. It is not going to kill us. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try and avoid it, but it is not going to be the end of the life on earth.

          • Shane White 3 years ago

            Since you refuse to read –

          • Richard 3 years ago

            You are a classic example of why climate skeptics and deniers have so much traction. Who are you trying to convince here? I already believe in agw and we need to do something about it. But you have to take people with you.
            Jacking up prices of electricty and food and then playing people doom and gloom climate disaster clips and graphs showing how we are all going to die
            is not going to do it.
            Put on a smiley face, look out the window it’s a lovely day the birds are singing. Enjoy life, you only get one.

          • Shane White 3 years ago

            By Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., 16 April 1963

            “First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”

            Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

            BTW perhaps somehow try to pass on your optimism and moderation to those already suffering in Bangladesh:

          • Richard 3 years ago

            Oh please spare me anymore. I can’t take it

          • Shane White 3 years ago

            Is suspect neither can many in the developing world already suffering. Never mind, the birds are singing.

          • Richard 3 years ago

            People in the developing world have far bigger problems than climate change right now.

          • Shane White 3 years ago

            You Sir have constructed a world of fantasy in which you have immersed yourself. Rather than understanding reality, your world of fantasy ensures your own happiness and satisfaction.
            I have tried to help you but I lack further time and probably skill in this matter.
            Optimism without objectivity is the habitat of the Hippy.

          • Richard 3 years ago

            You sire are a climate evangelist similar to a born again chrisitian. You have no relevance to normal peoples lives. You have constructed a fantasy that we are all doomed. If you were half sane you would realise that humans and life can adapt to almost anything and there is always an upside..
            You have not offered one constructive suggestion of a practical way forward, that stands a chance of getting up. For you it appears there is no point to anything.
            You need to help yourself before you try and help others. And tone down your arrogant self righteous ways.

          • Shane White 3 years ago

            Wow, you *still* haven’t quoted a single fact. Not surprising you’re upset at those I’ve quoted.
            Quite sad.
            What to do with the techno-optimist?

          • Shane White 3 years ago

            and doom and gloom *is* a very sensible deduction.
            No scientist in the climate field I’ve read is optimistic about the future. Get used to it, or source alternative evidence to support your claims. Making things up isn’t an option.

          • Shane White 3 years ago

            This too –

            Alice Bows Larkin seems to know a bit…

  2. Shane White 3 years ago

    Another blow to CCS or another blow to civilisation’s future? Remember decarbonisation is insufficient for 1.5C and 2C; it must be coupled with carbon sequestration on the scale of the world’s oceans:

    • John Saint-Smith 3 years ago

      Shane, the only value of CCS on a coal fired power station is to reduce, partially, the extra CO2 generated by that fossil-fuelled generator. Building non-polluting renewables and storage avoids that extra CO2 entirely. The only kind of sequestration that will actually reduce atmospheric CO2 is direct extraction, but that appears to be impossibly expensive.

      • Richard 3 years ago

        At the moment. But undoubtedly, renewable energy is going to become so cheap. In the not too distant future we will be able to power all the carbon sequestration we need at very little cost.

        Things are progressing extremely well on the technology front. We are right in the middle of a painful transition period. I compare it to child birth, but there is no going back now.

        • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

          Sure but we don’t have the luxury of emitting hundreds of Gigatonnes of CO2 and methane and then sequestering it in the second half of this century to track back to 280 ppm or whatever it turns out was safe from precipitating global warming catastrophes. Somehow IPCC scientists let politicians convince them that’s viable with BECCS or whatever but it’s stupidity writ large. Already the poles are melting fast at 1.0º C and most of the worlds coral reefs probably gonski.

          • neroden 3 years ago

            CCS is junk tech.

            But real carbon sequestration can be done, IF we have cheap renewable energy to power it with. Basically industrial processes which suck CO2 out of the air… and they have to be powered.

          • Shane White 3 years ago

            Wow. Some bold unreferenced claims there.

          • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

            Numbers please, as Shane says. Has to be equivalent to not just the industrial release of CO2 peak rate in recent times, but global deforestation, the ag sector emissions (56% of total emissions in Australia thanks to ruminant livestock production in QLD and NT), transport…

            You’d be needing a very high C price and a VERY big supply of money.

          • Shane White 3 years ago

            Re BECCS, Yep! Weird how that one shone so brightly.

        • Shane White 3 years ago

          Carbon sequestration at very little cost? Do you know the scale of the sequestration commitment? How will this be done?
          Numbers please.

          • Richard 3 years ago

            NO idea. The truth is we can’t stop burning fossil fuel over night. Renewable energy is ramping up
            at a great pace and the EV revolution is underway. Just give it time. All these technologies are inherently cheaper and superior at scale.
            Any numbers or costs I give you on fixing the green house gas problem by sucking it out of the air would be meaningless. I have faith that technology will solve it.

          • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

            We could stop a lot faster than we currently are though, in truth if this was an asteroid approaching earth, or an alien race or new superpower the current superpowers went to war with, we could stop fossil use dramatically quickly with existing technology scaled up overnight — if our lives depended on it. That’s including the rich people’s lives, who have so much control over politics. And that is the story for climate change, except the rich people think they’ll be find on top of the stack, so lets protect their immoral profits in fossils. (Can’t wait to see Exxon executives, Kochs et al in the Hague one day on genocide charges)

            It takes 18 months to build a 300MW wind farm. It takes 18 months to build 500x 300MW wind farms if you have the workers and parts. Probably 12-24 months to train the additional workers across from other industrial sectors (car manufacturing, ) in manufacturing, assembly and installation if we focused our minds to the task.

          • Shane White 3 years ago

            Richard you’ve stated you have faith tech will solve “it” but you’re unaware of the other task ahead – that of our massive commitment to Negative Emissions. This is such a common affliction.

            As you’ve stated, there is a limit to the rate of decarbonisation. There is also a limit to the max warming that will ensure the safety of our global civilisation. These limits place the burden of negative emissions upon us and as we delay, this burden grows.

            Not only is the scale of necessary negative emissions now massive, but we have utterly no idea how it will be implemented. None whatsoever. So much for techno-optimism.

            You and I are handing the job of negative emissions onto young people. The scale of this will depend on the rates of emission reduction we achieve now. Despite your satisfaction at the rate of technological achievements on this front, sweet fck all has been achieved relative to what needs to be done as explained below.

            Regrading the scale of the negative emissions burden being handed to young people, they will need a carbon sink of the order of the world’s oceans PROVIDED we reduce emissions NOW at a rate beyond historic precedent.
            How’d you miss that? Never mind, so has the media and most of the world’s populace.

            I think the standout reading material is the following article and study.

            Here’s the article –

            Here’s the study –

            Regarding the study, look at Fig 10b. If emissions reduce at 3%/yr starting in 2020, young people will need to sequester 237 PgC this century for a safe climate.

            237 PgC = 237 GtC = 237*44/12 = 869 GtCO2
            The world’s oceans sink 10 GtCO2/yr, so young people will need to somehow sink an amount of carbon equivalent to that sunk by the entire world’s oceans over an 87 year period, PROVIDED we decarbonise at -3%/yr NOW.

            So how’s that optimism?

      • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

        Some thought the idea was that coal would pay to develop CCS technology to point of working and then it would get used burning forests (yeah burning forests) to sequester the CO2 thereby making for negative emissions energy sources. As Kevin Anderson says, fictional technology.

      • Shane White 3 years ago

        John because we have left action so late, we are now committed to carbon sequestration on a massive scale. That’s a fact. Yes we need to decarbonise ALSO but you’re confusing the two. Have a read:
        And the above link does not describe what’s achieved for a safe climate of about 1C (350ppm) as described by Hansen in his longer study. The commitment for that is about 50 to 80 years of “another ocean worth of carbon sink” dependant on rates of decarbonisation. Let me know if you want the link and math.

        So do we –
        1. Sit back ignorantly enjoying Green Capitalism marketing solar and wind (as we are), allow the sequestration commitment to grow (as we are) and end up with 4C+?
        2. Enjoy Green Capitalism and support CCS development by leveraging off the fossil fuel industry’s efforts, in the hope the developed Negative Emission technology could be adopted for greater use beyond coal fired energy generators?
        3. Adopt a war-like stance, ration carbon and enact Manhattan-2 like projects for Negative Emission technologies?

        Can’t do (1). I bet you scoffed at (2) so how do you trigger (3)?
        Like I said, this is a blow to civilisation, not a blow CCS.

        • Alex Hromas 3 years ago

          CCS associated with thermal power stations has nothing to do with reducing CO2 levels in the air. The best figures quoted by CCS groups have been 99.9% of CO2 captured. To meet current CO2 concentrations this would have to be increased to 99.996% and even that would not take into account the methane and CO2 released by the mining.

      • Calamity_Jean 3 years ago

        “The only kind of sequestration that will actually reduce atmospheric CO2 is direct extraction, but that appears to be impossibly expensive.”

        Carbon dioxide dissolved in the ocean forms carbonate and bicarbonate ions. It might be cheaper to just react ocean water with some mineral that forms some insoluble carbonate that precipitates out rather than trying to sequester gaseous carbon dioxide.

  3. Robert Comerford 3 years ago

    I don’t get this, the Dutch are a well educated people, why were they ever involved in such nonsense ?

    • John Saint-Smith 3 years ago

      I suspect there are many people in Europe who assumed that Australians were sensible people too – until we backed out of a carbon tax that could have husbanded the transition to renewables, and decided to build more coal fired power stations after signing up for the Paris Agreement under Tony Abbott.

    • Shane White 3 years ago

      Maybe there’s a reason?

    • Hans the Elder 3 years ago

      The same as everywhere:

      Older engineers and managers in the power sector stuck in old thinking about centralised power production.

      Powersector trying to keep on to its’ power production oligopoly.

      Fossil fuel lobby. Intertwinement between civil servant at relevant ministries and the energy/power sector.

      NIMBYism against wind turbines.

      Conservative/liberal* resistance against subsidies for renewables.

      Image of renewables as being unrealistic hippy toys.

      * In the European meaning as free-market liberal.

    • André Balsa 3 years ago

      Even the well-educated are not immune to the power of corruption, in the Netherlands just like in any other country in the world. The global fossil fuel lobby is spending $ billions every year to bribe politicians and government officials at all levels.
      Whenever you see an energy-related project that makes no sense from the technical / engineering / financial point of view, look no further than who got paid how much to sign up for the “nonsense”.

  4. onesecond 3 years ago

    Yeah, “Clean Coal” and “Clean Diesel”. ROFL!

    • Shane White 3 years ago

      Maybe the ability to sequester carbon will be handy…?

      • onesecond 3 years ago

        I don’t think sequestering CO2 will ever be a good solution. There are actually carbon capture and use concepts wich I find really interesting. There you capture CO2 from the atmosphere and turn it into carbon fiber which you can sell at quite a high price. But “Clean Coal” isn’t even clean in principle because you only catch a part of the CO2 and Clean Diesel is a fraud anyway, because both Clean Diesel and Clean Coal are not economically competitive compared to other existing and zero CO2 emitting technologies. That is why the automakers cheated to make it seem diesel could be part of a solution when it is not.

        • Shane White 3 years ago

          Please see my reply to Richard below. We’d better do something and quick!

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