CCS can boost 'energy security and diversity'

Without CCS, 'turning off the lights' will be the only way to reduce CO2 emissions, writes Vicky Ford.

By Vicky Ford MEP

11 Feb 2014

There are many good reasons to support and prioritise the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS).

It is the only large-scale and demonstrable technology currently available to take carbon dioxide from combustion of fossil fuels to produce low-carbon electricity. Unless we include it in our long-term energy plans, it will not be possible to reduce emissions without also switching off the lights. In several industrial sectors - such as the chemical, steel, refinery and cement industries - deep emission reductions can only be achieved through CCS and developing CCS. Combining CCS with fossil fuels could enable exploitation of their carbon-based energy supplies in a demand-responsive manner, thus helping energy security and diversity, as well as carbon reduction.

[pullquote]Not very long ago, Europe was considered to be a world leader in CCS research but now we are falling behind others in the development stages[/pullquote]. CCS has been operating safely in Norway for many years, and Canada, the US and China are now moving ahead as well. My report calls for development of demonstration projects and to consider how to bring together industrial clusters in order to share the infrastructure costs. As a member of the negotiating team on Horizon 2020 I successfully defended the need to continue investing in CCS demonstration and research projects.

The decision of whether or not to grant planning approval for any CCS plant rests firmly at member state level. Where members of the public are well informed about the technology they tend to be supportive of CCS and there is much that could be done to help increase awareness.

However, in my discussions with potential CCS investors two issues are often accused of holding back CCS in Europe. The first is the current binding renewables target. It is argued that this drives investments towards renewables at the expense of both CCS and nuclear. This is why I support a technology neutral approach to solving our carbon reduction challenge. I would have liked to see a much clearer articulation of this issue in the parliament's report. The second is the timetables for research bids set by the commission. CCS projects have had to compete against renewables for projects, but they involve much more complex planning decisions and have struggled to meet the deadlines.

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