On the 4th December, EurActiv published an article entitled “‘Game over’ for CCS, driven out by cheap renewables”

ZEP has developed the following response to this article:

In response to the article (‘Game over’ for CCS, driven out by cheap renewables, 4 December), reducing emissions from Europe’s energy intensive industries through electrification will be extremely challenging. In fact, the European Zero Emissions Technology and Innovation Platform (ZEP) published a report recently on the interaction between electrification, CO2 use and CO2 storage. This report shows that a single steel production site would consume as much electricity as 9 million European households or the total electricity demand of greater London. Electrification alone is therefore not a viable pathway for decarbonising Europe’s energy intensive industries.

The article points to hydrogen as a potential solution for reducing emissions in sectors such as steel. This is a far more plausible pathway than electrification, and hydrogen can be produced through either renewable electrolysis or the application of CCS on natural gas to hydrogen production units. Clean hydrogen (CCS on natural gas) would be preferable, as an electrolysis hydrogen route for the steel sector alone would require almost half of the total wind energy resource potential of the North Sea. Recent research has also concluded that clean hydrogen is currently capable of delivering the same hydrogen cost as the renewables electrolysis route in 10 to 25 years time. The technologies required to produce clean hydrogen are available today, with multiple projects already capturing CO2 from the hydrogen production process.

Stating that CCS is “just a cost, a net cost” is misleading. The transition to a low-carbon Europe will incur a cost, however only with CCS in the mix can Europe achieve this transition at least cost. We need to focus on the value of CCS to Europe; ZEP’s analysis concludes that this could exceed €1 trillion between now and 2050 and more than €50 billion per year thereafter.

Even in the power sector, there is still a role for CCS. As well as reducing emissions from remaining fossil fuel electricity, CCS can actually facilitate greater integration of renewables with lower CO2 backup power. CCS with sustainable use of bioenergy (Bio-CCS or BECCS) will also be needed to deliver negative emissions. Interestingly, COP23 in Bonn featured a number of side events on negative emissions technologies, demonstrating the importance of these solutions to achieving a well-below 2°C goal.

Graeme Sweeney, Chairman of the European Zero Emission Technology and Innovation Platform (ZEP)