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North Sea nations and the low-carbon economy

World Coal,

North Sea nations have the skills and storage capacity to deliver a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) industry that will transform Europe’s industry and power sectors, providing the lowest-cost transition to a low-carbon future and a reliable electricity supply, while helping to secure economic resilience, according to a report released today by Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (SCCS). The report urgently calls for specific policy support and wider political ambition within the EU, and is published as the European Commission meets stakeholders in Edinburgh to discuss a strategic vision for energy infrastructure in the North Sea basin.

The SCCS report, A CCS future for Europe: catalysing North Sea action, derives from a meeting of European and international experts, and delivers a ten-point plan for policy makers, highlighting the need for robust business models for CO2 transport and storage in the North Sea basin, as well as targeted funding support to develop regional carbon capture “clusters” of emitters. It also calls for CCS to be fully recognised financially as a high-value climate change technology “unique in enabling the decarbonisation of thermal [coal-fired] power generation and essential industrial processes”. 

Professor Stuart Haszeldine, SCCS Director, said: “Europe faces tough targets to reduce carbon emissions by 2030. As the EU considers policy options to drive CCS deployment in line with 2030 climate and energy objectives, it is essential that this starts with CO2 storage.”

“Earlier this week, a review of the CCS Directive recommended a Europe-wide target of 220 million tonnes a year for CCS deployment by 2030, due to the ‘genuine and urgent need for CCS in Europe’,” Haszeldine continued. “Our new report strongly supports this finding and shows how the North Sea region can accelerate delivery of CCS across many nations. We specify actions to deliver essential infrastructure, and pinpoint incentives to support CO2 transport and storage, as well as develop cost-effective CCS clusters in regions across Europe. Now is the time to transfer skills from a challenged oil industry to revolutionise carbon storage.”

The SCCS has suggested a Central North Sea Storage Hub could receive and store as much as 100 million tpy/CO2 by 2030 and 500 million tpy by 2050 – equivalent to 25% of total EU emissions (at 2007 levels).

“Our report also suggests lessons that Europe could learn from developments in North America, where a CO2 pipelines infrastructure and the use of CO2 in enhanced oil recovery – as a profitable business model which also stores carbon – is driving the delivery of CCS for both industrial clusters and power generation. If Europe wants to remain a leader in tackling climate change, and maximise the contribution of its science and industry expertise to international action, then it must overcome the business barriers to CCS deployment,” Haszeldine added.  

Ten-point plan for EU and Member State policy makers:

  • Rapidly deliver a renewed New Entrants Reserve financing instrument (NER400) of the EU’s Emissions Trading System to support new industrial and power generation CCS projects.
  • Support the creation of CO2 transport and storage infrastructure through the EU’s Projects of Common Interest, including pipeline construction and CO2 shipping.
  • Create capture-to-storage CCS cluster plans for Europe’s industrial regions.
  • Provide specific funding, through the EU or Member States, to construct regional carbon capture clusters.
  • Reward CO2 transport and storage with clear pricing mechanisms.
  • Undertake analyses to identify tariff incentive mechanisms for CCS.
  • Develop a CO2-Enhanced Oil Recovery plan for the North Sea.
  • Encourage the research community to take lead on defining future R&D needs for cost reduction with strategic industry input.
  • Ensure R&D priorities are informed by industry needs, with feedback from demonstration projects being developed worldwide.
  • Support existing CCS networks and bodies and their work to exchange information between industry and academia; government and regulators; and financiers and insurers.

Edited by Sam Dodson

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