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Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), a variety of processes for extracting CO2 from large point sources and permanently storing it, has been recognised by the European Commission since the 2008 Impact Assessment as an essential part of Europe’s low carbon pathway. However, since then progress has been slow. The European Commission is currently reviewing progress on CCS and Sandbag has responded (PDF).

Minerals for carbon capture

Electron microscope image of fayalite reacting with gaseous CO2 to form siderite, thereby capturing the CO2 in a solid, stable form.

Amid problems with the NER300 fund (extracted from EU Emissions Trading Scheme auctions), questions over the permanency of storage in geological formations and a lack of incentives for energy suppliers, the expected date for the first-round of CCS plants, 2012, has come and gone. The USA and Canada now have commercial-scale CCS plants operating, and China has announced it will have commercial CCS by 2020. The EU needs to advance R&D and demonstration projects quickly in order to keep pace with developments in other parts of the world and to ensure that decarbonisation is not rendered incompatible with industrial activity. CCS is a vital part of the EU energy mix.

Sandbag recommends:

  • CCS is important for power, but also offers a way to decarbonise stubbornly high-emitting industrial sectors (e.g. steel). The review must ensure these sectors are also included.

  • Emissions Trading Scheme reform is essential in order to give a stable future carbon price that will allow emitters to make economic decisions on researching, installing and operating CCS.

  • Separate CCS support policies for the power and industrial sectors, additional to an improved carbon price.

  • To incentivise CCS for power, additional supporting mechanisms or grants must be provided (e.g. a decarbonisation obligation, EPS, greater NER300 access).

  • To incentivise CCS for industrials, a carbon sequestration certification system funded by fossil fuel extractors. Industrials, insulated as they are from the ETS carbon price by free allocation, will not invest in CCS without alternate policies

  • A renewed focus on R&D funding, a step that the original CCS Directive failed to adequately incentivise.

  • Investigation of the wider scope of CCS, particularly including mineralisation and productive uses for stored carbon e.g. aggregates

Read the full consultation response here.

Image courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory where scientists are using electron microscopes to understand the reaction of CO2 and minerals found underground.