Germany utility E.On has enlisted the support of Siemens in its quest to develop and commercialise carbon capture technology.

The two companies are to collaborate on developing a scrubbing technology that uses a solvent to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from power plant flue gases. They intend to build a pilot installation at an E.On power plant site in Germany,to be operational by 2010.

The companies’ overall target is to have the new technology ready for large-scale, commercial deployment by 2020.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology development has become a key focus for European utilities. In September 2007 E.On rival RWE announced a joint venture with BASF to develop CO2 scrubbing technologies.

E.On and Siemens intend to develop a post-combustion capture process that can be applied to new or existing coal fired power plants. The project is receiving funding from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) within the framework of the COORETEC initiative.

E.On already has several carbon sequestration initiatives underway, while Siemens will bring its project management, engineering and chemical process development skills to the partnership.

Just under a quarter of global CO2 emissions are attributable to power generation, and the requirement for mandatory CCS technology for power plants after 2020 is currently being debated in the EU.

“One of the most promising CCS technologies is post-combustion CO2 capture,” said Tobias Jockenhoevel, head of the innovative power plant concepts division and project manager at Siemens Energy. “The goals are development of advanced ecologically compatible CO2 solvents, optimization of the capture process and intelligent integration into the power plant. The real challenge is to attain high power plant efficiency and to avoid negative impact on the environment, for example, by emitting solvent.”

RWE and BASF are aiming to complete testing at a pilot facility by the end of the decade, and to be able to apply the technology commercially by 2020.