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Top utilities pull out of EU CCS project

January 19th, 2015

Four of Europe’s largest utilities have cited expense in their decision to opt out of a decade long carbon capture and storage (CCS) project.

Germany's RWE, France's Electricite de France , Sweden's Vattenfall AB and Spain's Gas Natural Fenosa have announced their withdrawal from the Zero Emission Platform (ZEP), which advises the European Commission about CCS technologies.

They say the technology behind the project, aimed at tackling global warming, is too expensive, according to a letter obtained by Reuters.
"The utility group has decided to stop its engagement in the ZEP," according to the letter dated Jan. 12 to Graeme Sweeney, chair of the ZEP advisory council.

The ZEP is a coalition of companies, scientists and environmental groups seeking ways to capture and bury heat-trapping carbon emissions mainly from the exhausts of coal, oil and gas-fired power plants.

While Saskatchewan Power opened the world's first coal-fired power plant retrofitted with CCS in October, the European body has largely failed to enable a proliferation of the technology.

"We currently do not have the necessary economic framework conditions in Europe to make CCS an attractive technology to invest in," the letter also stated. It added that CCS would play an important role cutting greenhouse gas emissions in future.

"It's a matter of regret ... but it also presents us with an opportunity to reinforce our membership," Sweeney, a former advisor to Shell, told Reuters. New members could include companies from energy intensive industries.

The letter said that the utilities had "restricted time and budget" and that ZEP had focused more and more on lobbying.

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