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The Future of CCS in the EU

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With COP19 behind us and with a realization that we are no closer to a climate solution that we were before the meetings in Poland, it is time to take a look at what is going on with CCS in the EU.

Photo: Sébastien Bertrand

CCS is an important instrument in achieving the climate goals and CO2 reductions and should be a part of the solution when the EU plans ahead. The EU is expected to release its Energy Roadmap 2030 early in 2014, and ZERO recently presented the report Policy Instruments for Large Scale CCS in Brussels which offers a concrete solution to the difficulties the EU has had trying to establish good CCS projects.

The existing CCS strategies

The EU has previously tried different strategies to establish more CCS and deal with greenhouse gases within the EU countries. The European Union Emissions Trading System (ETS) is not only directed at CCS, but the hope was that the cap and trade system would reduce emissions within the EU and EFTA countries by giving the incentive to emit less CO2. The results so far have not been convincing, and there has not been a substantial emission reduction in the EU countries. This is mainly because the price of ETS CO2 has not been as robust as previously predicted. Low prices means that the industry has few incentives to develop CCS technology, because it is less expensive to buy Emissions Unit Allowances (EUA).

The second and more directly CCS related instrument is NER300, which is a program aimed at subsidizing renewable energy and the installation of carbon capture and storage technology on fossil fuel plants. So far the program has failed to support any actual CCS projects, with all the funds being allocated to renewable projects instead, and critics feel it is time to look at other solutions for the development of CCS in the EU.

Other initiatives includes the European Economic Recovery Programme which was established after the economic crisis in 2008, and which allocated around € 1 billion to CCS demonstration projects. While directing funds towards demonstration projects is commendable, only few of the projects remain. This highlights another issue with this type of funding, namely that it does not lead to permanent CCS projects.


Solutions for the future

The challenge for the EU countries is to get the industry on board to clean up their emissions. Unfortunately a large part of the EU system seems to be hung up on ETS and NER300, despite the lack of results. DG Energy expects the Energy Road Map 2030 to suggest back loading allowances of ETS towards 2030 and use the profit to finance CCS projects.

- The EU needs to develop new mechanisms working for CCS, in addition to, or instead of, those already tested. The ETS and funding framework like NER300 and the EEPR has been proven insufficient. We need the EU to look beyond short sighted "desperate struggle" to get a few small demo projects up and running, and start working on in-built measures working to spark CCS on a large scale, says Camilla Svendsen Skriung, Political Adviser CCS in ZERO.

- The lack of actual CCS projects should teach us to build financial structures for CCS which incentives the industry to invest in this CO2 mitigating tool. A combination of a shared market, which makes it profitable to build CCS projects, like the certificate system and a strict emission standard, will work for CCS both on a short and long term. The 2030 framework for climate and energy should treat CCS in line with other climate tools, and open up for a needed work to develop an effective framework that will spark CCS on a large scale. Lets make 2014 the year for concrete and realistic plans, building the foundation for many CCS projects to come, she concludes.

Today the support for a certificate system is fairly low within the EU, and the focus is on the development of CCS demonstration projects and strengthening the ETS system. However, it seems to be time for the EU member states to question the existing strategy and consider other and more efficient instruments to reach the emission goals. The EU member states are ready for CCS, and the CCS consultation report from 2013 acknowledges the need for a common goal, focus on transportation and storage of CO2, while keeping the industry within the EU. The main struggle now is to include alternative instruments for increased CCS in the 2030 Roadmap.

Read more about ZERO’s suggestions for large-scale CCS deployment here.


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