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The EU and China Partnership on Climate Change focuses on concrete actions to develop, deploy and lower the cost of clean energy technologies. In this respect the EU and China developed the China-EU Near Zero Emission Coal (NZEC) project with the aim of developing and demonstrating carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technology, in the EU and China, to capture and storage CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants by 2020.

 

The EU-China Partnership on Climate Change, agreed in 2005, is designed i.e. to strengthen practical cooperation on the development, deployment and transfer of clean fossil fuels technologies, to improve energy efficiency and to achieve a low carbon economy. In this respect the EU and China have developed a project with the aim of developing and demonstrating advanced near-zero emission coal (NZEC) technology through carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS). This technology will allow for the capture of CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants and its subsequent storage underground, for example in exploited oil or gas fields or in sealed geological strata, thereby avoiding CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

Phase I

In order to implement the first phase of the cooperation on NZEC technology, Memoranda of Understanding have been signed between the European Commission and China and the United Kingdom and China.

Two coordinated feasibility studies are under way as part of Phase 1 of the near-zero emissions coal (NZEC) project, both involving European and Chinese partners, and led by a Joint Steering Committee. The first of these is the COACH project (Cooperation Action with CCS China-EU), which began on 1November 2006 and had its kick-off even tin China on 21-22November2006. It is funded, in part, under the EU's 6th Framework Programme for research, and has the following key objectives:

  • enhancement of knowledge sharing and capacity building;
  • preparation of the implementation of large scale clean coal energy facilities by 2020;
  • addressing of the cross-cutting issues, eg. Societal anchorage, legal, regulatory, funding and economic issues, and
  • coordination of activities performed under the EU-China MoU on NZEC.

COACH has five working groups dealing with i) knowledge sharing and capacity building; ii) capture technologies; iii) geological storage and large scale use of CCS; iv) recommendations and guidelines for implementation, and v) project management. Results are expected in 2009.

The second project is the UK's NZEC Initiative, which has a complementary set of five working groups, looking at I) knowledge sharing and capacity building; ii) future energy technology perspectives; iii)case studies for CO2 capture; iv) CO2 storage potential, and v) policy assessment and roadmap. Many partners are active in the consortia of both projects and therefore ensure the complementarity of the activities and that any gaps are filled. Chinese partners in both include ACCA21, Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University and Greengen (among others).

The UK's NZEC Initiative has a budget of up to£3.5m, while the EC's COACH project has a budget of €2.6m (including€1.5m EC contribution).

Phase II

Phase two will be a site-specific design and feasibility study and phase three (to be completed by 2020) will be the construction and operation of a commercial scale demonstration plant fired by near-zero-emissions coal with CCS technology.

On 25 June 2009, the European Commission adopted a Communication on Demonstrating Carbon Capture and Geological Storage (CCS) in emerging economies and developing countries: financing the EU-China Near Zero Emissions Coal Plant project. 

It set out plans to finance the demonstration of carbon capture and geological storage (CCS) in cooperation with China. This comes in the context of the commitment made by the EU and China in 2005 to develop and demonstrate in China and the EU advanced, near-zero emissions coal technology through carbon capture and storage by 2020. CCS is an important technology in the fight against climate change and has the potential to cut emissions from power generation in fast-developing and coal-dependent emerging economies, such as China.