As 2017 draws to a close, it is worth reflecting on the CCS developments that have taken place over the past year. The latest COP meeting in Bonn closed on the 17th November – and it remains to be seen whether this meeting succeeds in delivering concrete actions to achieve the objective agreed in 2015 in Paris; to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2°C. Interestingly, CCS was the focus of a number of side events at the Bonn COP meeting – perhaps a reflection of the realisation that to deliver a 1.5°C goal will require unprecedented amounts of renewable energy and CCS.
In Europe, a definite momentum for CCS has been steadily building over the last twelve months. Both Norway and the Port of Rotterdam are pursuing proposals to create the first European CCS clusters, able to capture and transport CO2 from industrial facilities for permanent storage under the seabed. Norway is particularly interesting as their proposals include CCS applications at an ammonia facility, a cement plant and a waste-to-energy project. This could provide vital lessons to other countries on the importance of applying CCS to multiple sectors such as energy intensive industries, heating, power and transport.
Elsewhere, both the Netherlands and the UK have recently published decarbonisation plans which highlight the importance of CCS. The Dutch Coalition Agreement, published on the 10th October, includes a commitment to storing 20 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030, whilst the UK’s Clean Growth Strategy sets out the ambition to deploy CCUS (Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage) at scale during the 2030s.
It is also extremely encouraging to note that all four cross-border CO2 transport projects that were submitted as European Projects of Common Interest (PCI) have been adopted by the High-Level Decision Making Body. This includes a Statoil project which aims to connect emission sources in Teesside UK and Eemshaven in the Netherlands to a CO2 storage site on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, The Rotterdam Nucleus project proposed by the Port of Rotterdam Authority, the Teesside CO2 Hub in the UK in collaboration with the Nuon/Vattenfall Magnum Project in the Netherlands, and the Pale Blue Dot CO2 Sapling Transport Infrastructure Project which features partners from the UK, Norway and the Netherlands. All of these projects could potentially be funded under the Connecting Europe Facility fund and if all four went ahead, they would create important strategic CO2 hubs which could drive the development of sustainable economic zones. Such zones represent the lowest-cost route to sustainable regional growth across Europe whilst safeguarding and boosting the global competitiveness of vital European industries through the creation of low-carbon products.
Looking forward, a conference is due to take place towards the end of this year on the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan). This plan highlights the areas where the EU needs to strengthen cooperation to bring new, efficient and cost-competitive low-carbon technologies to the market faster. As part of the SET-Plan, a number of Member States are collaborating on a dedicated Implementation Plan for CCS and Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU), which sets out ten key targets for successful CCS deployment.
History has shown us that attempting to implement CCS on a country by country basis presents significant challenges. It is now time to shift the focus and concentrate on those countries that already posses the key characteristics necessary for CCS deployment – such as available CO2 storage, good concentration of industrial emitters and a level of understanding of the CCS policies and incentive mechanisms that are required. But more importantly, successful CCS deployment will require increased levels of collaboration – both between countries and between Government and industry. Fortunately, there are already a number of areas that lend themselves well to such collaboration; in particular countries bordering the North Sea. In fact these countries are already cooperating to develop a joint offshore grid and there is a good chance that CCS will be included in these efforts in the future. The Baltic region also has great potential for collaboration regarding the development of CO2 infrastructure.
Whilst CCS will undoubtedly need to play an important role in reducing emissions from energy intensive industries, heating and power, it is important to remember that CCS, in combination with bioenergy (bio-CCS or BECCS), also has the ability to deliver negative emissions. To meet the Paris Agreement, the IEA has estimated that CCS will need to deliver 32% of the extra effort to move from a 2°C scenario to well below 2°C and a substantial proportion of this effort will need to be met by BECCS. Negative emissions technologies are likely to become increasingly important towards the latter half of this century, particular to enable flexibility in sectors such as aviation, where emissions reductions will be challenging.
2017 has seen a number of positive steps for CCS in Europe, and there is a definite sense of excitement. It is now vital that the European Commission builds on this momentum and implements a policy framework that incentivises the capture and storage of CO2, facilitating an environment in which follow-on projects and investments can develop. The key to delivering a successful European CCS industry lies in the development of CO2 transport and storage infrastructure which can be shared by a large number of industries and a range of countries. We urgently need to put in place the investment and financing models to realise this infrastructure today and ensure the roll-out of CCS in Europe from 2025. The sustainable future of Europe’s industries, regions and climate depends on it.
Graeme Sweeney, Chairman of the European Zero Emission Technology and Innovation Platform (ZEP)
Article originally published on: http://www.europeanenergyinnovation.eu/OnlinePublication/Winter2017/mobile/index.html#p=23
Reproduced by kind permission of European Energy Innovation