CO2 back into the earth

European pilot project CO2SINK goes into the next phase

Professor Reinhard Hüttl, CEO of the GFZ Potsdam, opens the valve for refueling the CO2 tank in Ketzin on June 13, 2007. © E. Gantz, GFZ Potsdam
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Yesterday, Ketzin in Brandenburg was the starting point for the first CO2 test storage on mainland Europe. The first storage components of the CO2SINK pilot project for underground storage of the greenhouse gas are set up and in operation. On the site 30 kilometers west of Berlin, work is currently being carried out on three wells.


After completion of the first 803 meter deep hole, which will serve as an injection well, the second hole has already reached over 400 meters depth. This and the following third drilling serve to observe and investigate the physical and geochemical processes underground. At the same time, the components of the injection system are set up, tested and put into operation, so that the actual storage of CO2 should start in the autumn.

CO2SINK important for climate protection

"Under the leadership of the GFZ Potsdam, in collaboration with 18 partners from nine countries, it is being investigated for the first time in Europe as to how CO2 can be introduced and stored in low-lying porous salt rock filled with salt water, " said Professor Reinhard Hüttl, Chairman of the GFZ Potsdam. "The CO2SINK project thus serves as a pilot project for many areas of the world with similar geology."

The underground storage of carbon dioxide is a potential option for significantly reducing CO2 emissions when, in the future, this greenhouse gas is separated in power plants burning fossil fuels. For this, however, it must be known which processes are triggered by storage in the subsoil and what happens in the medium and long term with the CO2 stored underground. If CO2 storage proves to be a viable option, the CO2SINK project marks an important step in asserting technology leadership in this area. display

"If we manage to safely store carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants underground in the long term, we can slow down climate change. This will give us time to break new ground with fossil fuels, "said Professor Jürgen Mlynek, President of the Helmholtz Association.

Workshop highlights importance of pilot plant

On the occasion of the successful completion of the first well and the commissioning of the first components of the injection facility and the field laboratory, the European Technology Platform "Zero Emission Fossil Fuel Power Plants" (ETP-ZEP) and the GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam (GFZ) organized a scientific conference at the GFZ Potsdam a subsequent ceremony at the CO2 underground storage in Ketzin. More than 300 participants attended this meeting, which was opened by Minister-President Matthias Platzeck and Commissioner for Energy of the European Union Andris Piebalgs.

"This workshop during the German EU Council Presidency underscores the importance of climate protection in Europe and worldwide. CO2 capture and storage is a crucial solution in the fight against climate change. The power plant operators and the oil and gas industry are ready to make their contribution and are therefore involved in the European ZEP technology platform, together with politics, research and environmental organizations, "explains Professor Kurt H ge, Chairman of the ETP ZEP.

(idw - GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam / Helmholtz Association, 14.06.2007 - DLO)