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Site visit: ROAD CCS project and Maasvlakte power plant
You wouldn’t think it was ‘easy’ to find anything in Rotterdam Port. The sprawling 50 km is Europe’s biggest dry bulk port, one of the world’s largest oil and chemical centres and Europe’s main container port. It is industry as far as the eye can see. If you are looking for Maasvlakte, however, go to the very, very end of the port and look for a billowing stack. That’s it. Of course, the directions won’t be like that for very long as there is a huge land reclamation project adjacent, ready to come online. Looking out over the reclaimed land, with your back to the Port, it’s hard not to scratch the head. How do they do it? Now, let’s see what they can do with CCS.
ROAD is a European-backed CCS demonstration project happening in Rotterdam. It is a consortium between E·ON (capture), Maasvlakte CCS project (transport) and TAQA (storage). It plans to capture emissions from 250 mw of a new 1-GW Maasvlakte coal fired power plant(to run alongside the existing power station), transport via pipeline approximately 25 km offshore and store in one or a number of soon to be depleted gas fields. It was awarded €180 million of EEPR funding by the European Commission. In addition, last year, the Dutch Government announced they will support the project with €150 million in subsidies over the next decade. It is not an applicant for NER300.
As I said, ROAD is part of Rotterdam Port and as such, part of the broader ‘Harbour Vision’ of Rotterdam Port to be cleaner and greener. It is also an integral part of the Rotterdam Climate Initiative (RCI), which is a metropolitan climate programme, aiming to cut emissions in Rotterdam by 50% by 2025. Rotterdam accounts for 16% of Dutch emissions.
Currently, the main area of interest and activity around Maasvlakte and ROAD currently lies in permitting, both for CCS and for the new build coal-fired power plant. The power plant is being built but it is considered a retrofit. Interestingly, this is because they did not think that CCS would come so soon. Things have changed.
ROAD is an EEPR project and has the obligation of operating by 2015. This clearly puts pressure on permitting and regulatory environments that don’t really exist. Or didn’t. From what I gather, great lengths are being gone to to establish a CCS permitting system in the Netherlands. Everything has been in flux – procedures, competent authorities, environmental impact assessments requirements, CCS policy, local authorities, national authorities, the list goes on and on. And of course, Barendrecht. Accordingly, this system requires a huge amount of co-ordination but it seems they’re nearly there. The EEPR grant and its deadlines have been seen as a positive as it keeps pressure on all parties to keep moving. In terms of the transposition of the European directive, it is an amendment to an existing mining act that is currently taking place.
There are 4 parts of the permitting chain. The power plant involves: permit to construct and operate power plant, permit to mdify existing plant, environmental permits and water abstraction license. The capture plant involves: building permit capture plant, environmental impact assessment and environmental permits. The transport(5km onshore, 20k offshore) involves: assessment of pipeline routing, consents from landowners and pipeline work authorization. The storage involves: exploration permit, drilling permits, environmental impact assessment, storage permit and consent from landowners.
There are 5 steps in the permitting process:
- completing an overview of procedures (who does what, how long will it take);
- preparing the documents (draft version including technology and suppliers);
- Voortoets (see below)
- formal procedures (authorities review all submitted and after public consultation, decide on permit);
- and legal procedures (permit granted can be subject to legal challenge, may take a long time).
The Dutch have set up a ‘Voortoets” which a preliminary check carried out by the Environmental Impact Assessment Commission. It takes 6-8 weeks and is informal but is geared at saving time in the long run. This happens between ‘perparing the documents’ and ‘formal procedures. This is “about” where the ROAD project is currently. They plan to make their permit submissions later on in June. It is at this stage that there can be objections from the community (if there are any). This would normally be through the courts. Work is hoped to begin in October/November, 2011. Building expected to take 2.5 years. By my calculations, that’s 2nd or 3rd quarter of 2014. Interesting. Final Investment Decision (FID) needs to be taken at a “certain” time. For this, they want to have 80-90% clarity on permitting.
To round-up, I was encouraged by the words of the ROAD project manager, Hans Schoenmakers, while discussing permitting at the EU CCS Network event this month:
“It can give you some problems but we are here to solve these problems”.
A fine message for us all.