The UK and China have launched a new programme to develop and construct a new plant demonstrating near-zero emissions coal technology and carbon capture and storage.

The Near Zero Emissions Coal Initiative (NZEC) is part of the EU-China Partnership on Climate Change designed to build links between Chinese and European experts and tackle CO2 emissions. The first phase of the project is being supported by funding from the UK and jointly managed by AEA and the Administrative Centre for China’s Agenda 21.

IEA projections show that coal’s role in primary energy demand will increase from 41 per cent to 43 per cent in 2030, reflecting a greater role in developing countries.

A consortium of key industrial and academic partners from both countries will undertake the first phase, which aims to model the future energy requirements of China, produce case studies of potential carbon dioxide capture technologies, perform initial characterisation of selected sites suitable for geological storage of carbon dioxide, and develop a roadmap for CCS in China.

Phase one of the initiative is expected to last for 18 months, after which a second phase will detail favourable options for a demonstration plant in China. Phase three aims to construct the demonstration plant.

AEA Technology has been appointed to run the project’s first phase. Other companies involved in the programme include Alstom Power, air Products, BP, Doosan Babcock and Shell.

The demonstration plant is expected to be commissioned by 2014, coinciding with the UK’s plans for a commercial-scale carbon capture and storage demonstration plant.