#FIS 2019 | Witold Urbanowski (Ciech Soda): Energy producers must find a way to capture and store CO2

Aurel Constantin 29/10/2019 | 21:54

If the price of the CO2 certificates continues to grow, energy producers who use natural gas will have to capture and store CO2 if they want to keep making a profit, said Witold Urbanowski, CEO at Ciech Soda Romania, during Business Review’s Foreign Investors Summit. 

“I haven’t seen any renewable energy source that can provide the same level of power as traditional methods so we have to find another way to protect the environment,” says Witold Urbanowski.

Ciech Soda, the company he leads, will celebrate 15 years of activity in Romania in 2020 and, as he argues, it is the living example of an energy investor. “I know that if I want to survive I have to invest in energy,” says Urbanowski. The company was previously called Uzinele Sodice Govora, and was bought in 2006 by the Ciech group. It produces soda ash, water glass, sodium silicate and soda derivatives.

In producing all those products, the company is a heavy user of energy, the reason why the company also has to invest in producing steam. But that is not always profitable.

“In the last 40 days, we couldn’t produce energy because it was not financially viable. Which is strange, just like the situation of Romania, which is importing electricity right now,” says Urbanowski.

But the fact that Romania is importing power may be a good investment opportunity. As coal-power plants are no longer viable and will soon be closed, Romania needs new energy producers. And since Romania has its own natural gas, it should use it to produce energy.

The problem with natural gas is the emission of CO2, which is hurting the environment. And since the price is paid through green certificates, the price of energy goes up.

“Can we capture the CO2 that we produce when making electricity? That’s the big question and the next step for us because it will become more and more expensive to produce CO2, the energy certificates prices will increase to the point when it is not profitable, so we will have to capture and store CO2 somehow,” says Urbanowski.

The head of Ciech Soda says they will also invest in renewables, most probably in photovoltaic sources. But the problem remains as you can’t store energy for the next day, all the energy must be consumed on the spot due to the fact that it cannot be stored.

One way or another, the Romanian state will have to intervene and find ways to help energy producers. It is unclear how it will be able to do that, but there must be a way as the energy sector is vital for the entire population and economy, Urbanowski argued.

“If the politicians don’t help us on the Ramnicu-Valcea platform, if they don’t try to understand us, we may not be able to survive there,” says Urbanowski.

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