• EU-China carbon capture and storage cooperation agreement goes out with a whimper after more than a decade

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

The EU Observer website has covered the long and disappointing saga of an agreement for the EU to finance a carbon capture and storage project in China. Back in 2005, as China was set to become the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, and was reluctant to take mitigating action, while the EU was determined to take it, the two political entities established a ‘Partnership on Climate Change’. The goal of the partnership was originally to “develop and demonstrate, in China and the EU, advanced ‘zero-emissions’ coal technology”, which in a memorandum of understanding in 2007 was further defined as a carbon capture and storage project. This was split into three phases – a conference (which took place in 2009), then a feasibility study (which was to be completed in 2012, at a cost of around €7 million/US$8.4 million), and then construction. For construction, the EU pledged €50 million (US$60 million) of what was estimated to be a total cost of €300-550 million. In 2010, it was hoped that construction could be complete by 2015. What transpired, however, was a contractual dispute lasting a year between 2011-12, and other delays – seemingly concentrated in the EU bureaucracy – that meant that the second phase never properly started. By 2017, the two Chinese companies that were candidates for the feasibility study had decided to fund the projects themselves, and the EU would (understandably) not consider funding projects that already had been funded. The Chinese ministry of science and technology, however, still expected the memorandum of understanding to be adhered to, and wanted the project to continue, but the EU wrote to say that it was “not in a position to maintain the foreseen financial support”, but that it would like to reorient cooperation to a dialogue about policy and expertise, suggesting it would provide funding for such dialogue. A project that once had grand dimensions, then, will end with a whimper.