CCS 'crucial' for securing EU's industrial base

Graeme Sweeney calls on the European commission to propose how CCS can be further integrated into the 2030 climate and energy package.

By Graeme Sweeney

25 Mar 2014

Europe has arrived at a critical juncture where we must decide on the most cost-effective and overall effective route to achieving European climate change targets while avoiding the associated detrimental effects of failing to do so.

We know that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an essential technology for the mitigation of CO2 emissions but its role in achieving our targets must be further made explicit.

The European commission's 2030 framework communication restated the importance of CCS in the power sector and noted that it may be the only option for substantially cutting emissions in energy-intensive industries.

These industries are at the core of the European industrial renaissance strategy, therefore making CCS crucial for conserving Europe's industrial base and reconciling ambitions for growth in welfare and employment is in line with attaining climate targets as we move towards 2050.

"ZEP is disappointed about the omission of CCS in the council’s conclusions, despite its necessity for achieving European climate change objectives"

The proposed target of 40 per cent greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, corresponds with the EU 2050 low-carbon economy roadmap's recommended range for 2030 of 40-44 per cent reductions, albeit at the lower end.

Provided there is a timely introduction of transitional measures and a level playing field with other low-carbon technologies, CCS could cost-effectively deliver at least four per cent GHG reductions in the EU by 2030. This equals a reduction of around 222 megatonnes of CO2 in 2030, shared three quarters by the power sector, around 40 Gigawatts, and one quarter by energy-intensive industries.

In the long term, the emissions trading system (ETS) should remain the central tool of EU climate policy, providing a predictable, meaningful and robust carbon price and a long-term driver for CCS. The proposed structural reforms of the ETS via a tighter cap on the number of emission allowances flowing through the market out to 2030 and beyond, as well as the legislative proposal for a market stability reserve are welcome initiatives to strengthen the ETS.

The zero emissions platform (ZEP) also strongly supports timely action to deal with the surplus of allowances in order to further strengthen the system. However, until the ETS delivers a meaningful carbon price, CCS will need transitional support measures in the form of feed-in premia, a CCS innovation fund or, if carefully designed, CCS certificates.

During the European council on 20-21 March, European heads of state discussed the 2030 climate and energy framework. ZEP is disappointed about the omission of CCS in the council's conclusions, despite its necessity for achieving European climate change objectives. We find this to be quite an unfortunate development given the important role of CCS in maintaining security of energy supply, sustainability and competitiveness.

As we move forward with this critical policy initiative, we look towards member states to fully embrace this ambition at EU level, making CCS a no-regret route for the 2030 climate and energy framework.

We also call on the commission to bring forward concrete proposals on how CCS can be further and cost effectively integrated into the 2030 climate and energy package. This is an essential step towards creating the business environment necessary to deploy this essential technology by 2030.

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