EASAC report CCS in Europe28 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.
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 is possible by pipelines or ships.
Ships are the preferred option:
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:
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 perceptionsEASAC 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 alternativesEASAC 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:
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:
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