News overview

EASAC report CCS in Europe

28 May 2013

The European Academies Science Advisory Board (EASAC) has published a report about the status of CCS research and implementation in Europe. A summary of the highlights of this report.

Capture technologies

All three main technologiese for CO2 capture are considered technologically feasible. However, integrated operation on commercial-scale power stations remains to be demonstrated. 

 

Costs are also an important consideration. At the moment, adding capture technology to coal- or gas-fired powerstations ads around  50% to the levelised cost of electricity. This number is expected to come down to 30-45% over the next 20 years. Radically new technologies and configurations may be able to improve this number even more substantially, but for now that is only speculation.

CO2 transport

CO2 transport is possible by pipelines or ships.

 

Ships are the preferred option:

 

  • for small locations
  • for remote offshore locations
  • when flexibility is required, for instance in start-up phases

 

 Ship transport yet needs to be demonstrated in a commercial scale operation.

 

For pipelines, their economic and safe design and operation needs to  be developed and demonstrated further. Special cases include:

 

  • anticipated impurities in the CO2 stream 
  • variable load operation of the CO2 sources
It is a major institutional and logistical challenge to develop an integrated cross-border CO2 transport infrastructure in Europe. However, there are no insurmountable technical problems facing pipeline transport.

 

CO2 storage

EASAC advises to have publics play an active part in the iterative proces of confidence building between developers of CO2 storage sites and regulators. Long term safety of CO2 storage is probably possible, but some uncertainties remain that need to be addressed not only technically, but also by paying attention to public concerns. Liability issues also need to be resolved.

 

The deployment rate of CCS in Europe depends on the availability of excellent geological site characterisation of a sufficient number of potential CO2 storage sites. This challenge is bigger for saline aquifers than for mature and depleted oil and gas fields. The major part of estimated storage capacity rests in saline aquifers.

Public perceptions

EASAC advocates more concerted initiatives at EU and national levels to debate the value of CCS in the context of climate mitigation strategies. Also, the need to pay attention to the social setting for CO2 storage facilities is highlighted alongside the suitability of the geological setting and location in relation to capture sites.

CO2 utilisation and other alternatives

EASAC has considered alternatives to 'mainstream' CCS inclusing biochar, BECCS, waste carbonation, algae cultivation and CO2 utilisation in chemical processes which have already reached the pilot and demonstration stage. For the near term, these approaches do not seem capable of making a major contribution to climate change mitigation.

CCS in Europe: present and future

The current picture of CCS in Europe shows several problems:

 

  • downsizing of, and delays in, demonstration plants
  • continuing challenges to the economic viability of CCS
At present, the financial and policy conditions are not in place to attract private investment in CCS
  • difficulties of public acceptance
  • expectation that confidence in the safety and permanence of CO2 storage will build relatively slowly

 

All these challenges may constrain the possible locations and rates of development of transport and storage infrastructures.

 

Therefore, the prospects for CCS in Europe will realistically be in the lower end of the ranges considerd by the EC in establishing the CCS Directive, and more recently in the Roadmap 2050 exercise. CCS applications with favourable juxtapositions of sources, sinks and public acceptance stand the best chance to be realised in practice.

 

Unless decisive policy actions are taken to provide investors with sufficient confidence in returns over the lifetime of projects, CCS technology, capacity and infrastructure will not be developed fast enough. Suggestions to increase the financial viability of CCS include:

 

  • develop funding mechanisms in addition to the ETS (e.g. feed-in tariffs, 'contracts for difference')
  • extend the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to include alternative technologies such as BECCS and CO2 utilisation (provided that the mitigation effect from the life cycle of these optins is significant and can be measured and proven)
  • revisit the current rules for funding the capital and operational costs of EU demonstration plants
These  demonstration plants are essential to provide data at large scale that may further public confidence by taking away uncertainties. The same is true for geological research that underlines the permanence and safety of CO2 storage. For transport, ship transport should be fully incorporated into the provisions of the CCS Directive. Finally, an enhanced emphasis should be placed on public engagement and debates about the role of CCS in mitigating climate change compared with other options, to increase awareness and to put decisions to proceed with CCS on a firmer footing.

 

 

 

Full report

The full report is available from the EASAC website, or download it here (pdf, 2,6 MB).
News overview

Search in Website

Search publications»

My CATO

The form has been sent
Please fill in your username
Please fill in your password
Forgot your password?»

Subscribe to our
free newsletter

Click here »

Contact

28 May 2013

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please let us know.

More information»

CATO in the news

28 May 2013

Your daily selection of CCS-news?

 

Log in to MyCATO for 'CATO in the news'