Much of Europe’s production of coal takes place in Central and Eastern Europe (e.g. in Poland), and a number of the countries have a long history of hydrocarbon exploration and production (e.g. Romania, Hungary, Croatia and Poland). Introduction of the Zero Emission power generation concept when constructing new capacity would contribute toward maintaining coal production - and the associated employment - in the new member states and candidate countries and may also, in the longer term, support a rejuvenation of Western European indigenous coal resource utilisation. In addition, CO2 employed for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) may significantly boost the supply of European oil resources. The Zero Emission principle is shown in Figure 2 below.
Figure 2: The almost C02-free power plant
Kyoto and beyond
The current 25 EU member states ratified the Kyoto Agreement during the summer of 2002, while the Russian Duma ratified in October of 2004. The Kyoto Agreement will thus enter into force in 2005, simultaneously with the commencement of the domestic EU burden sharing agreement: The EU CO2 Emission Trading Scheme.
The Kyoto commitment calls for reductions of the CO2 emissions by an average of 8% for the Community, relative to the 1990 level and to be achieved between 2008 and 2012. Even the rather modest reduction obligation of 8% appears to be difficult to achieve with the options at hand: energy efficiency measures, fuel substitution (e.g. coal to gas), and deployment of renewable energy systems.
The European Commission has estimated that fulfilment of the Kyoto obligation would entail an annual CO2 emission reduction by the then EU-15 member states of some 336 million tonnes. This corresponds to the emissions from about 80 coal fired 500 MW power plants, which would have to be shut-in, replaced by other energy types or modifies to cease emitting CO2 to the atmosphere.
Figure 3: Total EU greenhouse gas emissions in relation to the Kyoto target
This includes the 8% of the 1990 emission level plus the reductions resulting from the forecasted increase in energy consumption. Progress so far within the EU has been to stabilise the emissions, although this has mainly been achieved by contributions from Germany (shutting down lignite power plants) and the United Kingdom (coal to gas switching). The majority of the reduction requirement is thus still outstanding (Figure 3).
Table 2: European Annex I countries: C02 emissions
As shown in TABLE 2 above, all of the Central and Eastern European new member states and candidate countries have reduced emissions of CO2 dramatically since 1990. This has mainly been the inadvertent result of low industrial and economical activity following from the dissolution of the FSU.
This situation might, at least for a number of years to come, provide the opportunity for the EU to acquire emission credits through the use of the Kyoto agreement flexible mechanisms.
In the longer term, however, these new member and candidate countries will be looking towards rapid development of their economies, modernisation of the industrial sectors, and in a general way striving towards achieving the same standard of living as their neighbours to the west. This cannot be done without major restructuring of the power sectors: replacing old lignite power plants with modern plants, building new capacity and the phasing out and replacement of the Chernobyl type nuclear reactors. This development has already started and must be anticipated to accelerate over the next decade.