American Companies Beating Europe to First Commercial CCS Plant

Companies in the U.S. and Canada are likely to beat European rivals in building the first large-scale project trapping carbon dioxide to sequester underground, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.

Air Products & Chemicals Inc., based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and SaskPower International Inc. of Canada are the closest to building a utility-sized carbon capture and storage plant, the London-based industry analyst said in a report today.

Carbon capture and storage is one of the most promising technologies to redirect emissions from burning fossil fuel. The International Energy Agency estimates 3,400 CCS plants are needed by 2050 to meet a goal to cut carbon emissions in half.

“It has been clear for years that if the world’s industrial and power generation sectors are not to see a large part of their asset base rendered obsolete, they need carbon capture and storage to work,” Bloomberg New Energy Finance Chief Executive Officer Michael Liebreich said in an e-mailed statement. “But not one large-scale, end-to-end project has yet been built, and the technologies still have to prove their cost-effectiveness.”

The top four sites in the semi-annual ranking of 24 demonstration projects worldwide are in North America. In fifth place as Europe’s most advanced is EON AG’s plan at the Maasvlakte coal-fired plant in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

All other European projects including one in northern England developed by 2Co Energy Ltd. depend on state or European Union funding, New Energy Finance said. Projects in the ranking must capture more than 1 million tons of CO2 a year.

‘Largely Mired’

“European projects are largely mired in the long New Entrants’ Reserve 300 competition,” Kieron Stopforth, a CCS analyst at BNEF, said in an e-mail. The New Entrants Reserve is a European Union contest to fund CCS and renewable technologies.

Air Products & Chemicals, based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, will capture CO2 from Valero Energy Corp.’s Port Arthur, Texas, refinery. It will sell the CO2 to Denbury Resources Inc. for enhanced oil recovery. The $431 million project is on track to be the first operating early in 2013, New Energy Finance said.

Second is a $1.25 billion project developed by state-owned utility SaskPower in Saskatchewan. The Boundary Dam project may be completed by early 2014, BNEF said.

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