State aid

State aid: The Commission gives the go-ahead for € 150 million support for the Dutch project dedicated to CO2 capture and support.

The European Commission has agreed to the Netherlands making a grant of € 150 million for a CO2 capture and storage (CCS) demonstration project. A CO2-capture installation will be built in the Rotterdam Port complex as part of the joint venture involving E.ON and GdF Suez. This will capture CO2 emissions from an E.ON coal-fired power plant and transport it to a depleted gas field under the North Sea for storage. The Commission found that the aid was in line with EU rules on state aid whereby the overall positive impact of the measures outweighs any potential for a breach of fair competition. The project will also be given EU support under the European Energy Programme for Recovery (EEPR).

Joaquín Almunia, Vice President of the European Commission, responsible for competition: “This Dutch CCS project will help realise the EU’s environmental aims for 2020, with no impact on competition”.

E.ON’s coal-fired Maasvlakte Power Plant 3 (MPP3) will be complemented with a 250 MW-equivalent CO2 capture installation (connected to MPP3). The installation will have a 1.1 million tonnes annual capture capacity for CO2. Once captured the CO2 will be transported along a pipeline to a depleted gas field not far away, in the North Sea.

Development of CO2 capture and storage forms part of the 2008 climate and energy package towards realising the EU-2020 environmental objectives. The Commission has determined that Dutch support is an appropriate and fair measure required to realise EU objectives. The Commission also determined that – despite its strategic significance – the development of the large scale CCS project would not be realised without this support, and certainly not before 2020. The backing also boosted implementation of the project.

The Commission also concluded that any competitive distortion and/or impact on trade would be strictly limited. Moreover, overall, the positive effects of the measure would outweigh any negative influence on competition. Above all, the mandatory sharing, by the beneficiaries, of information around actual progress made by the project, ensures that any distortion of competition is confined to a minimum.

Indeed, the CCS project has received € 180 million in EU support within the framework of the European Energy Programme for Recovery (EEPR). The EEPR is a financial instrument with the overall aim of encouraging recovery from the crisis affecting the economy of the EU. It is also designed to bring the EU nearer to achieving its aims around energy and climate policy. The project also forms part of the European CCS Demonstration Project Network which is designed to deploy and share knowledge from CCS demonstration projects.

As soon as any confidentiality issues have been dealt with the non-confidential version will be available for consultation in the State Aid Register on the website of the Directorate General for Competition under Case Number N381/2010. The State Aid Weekly e-News provides an overview of the most recent decisions on governmental aid published on the internet and in the Official Journal of the EU.