Can Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Strategy Help the Fight Against Climate Change?

April 7, 2019


Continuing reliance on fossil fuels in the industry emphasizes the significance of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon capture storage (CCS) refers to the set of technologies used to capture, transport and store carbon dioxide emitted from power plants and industrial facilities. It prevents CO2 from reaching the atmosphere by storing it in suitable geological formations. CO2 is separated and captured as a byproduct from industrial processes, stored in compressed form and transported to the place of sequestration. This technology is an effective way to mitigate climate change in Europe and internationally, particularly in geographical areas with increasing energy-demand and large fossil-fuel reserves.


Environmental integrity of CCS is European Commission’s overriding concern – CO2 has to remain isolated from the atmosphere in the long term. There are challenges in CCS deployment, one of them is effective commercialization of the technology. EU’s CCS Directive provides a framework for integrated systems deployed at commercial scale. EU is committed to reduce gas emission level by 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050.  So far carbon capture has failed to reach the desired level despite EU regulations and funding opportunities provided by European Energy Programme for Recovery and NER300. A database of locations for potential CO2 storage and the prospective capacity of these underground geological formations that could be used to store CO2 has been developed by ongoing CO2StoP project. 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework acknowledges the need for significant emission cuts in energy and carbon-intensive industries to reach long-term emission reduction goal. CSS could be the only option to reduce direct emissions from industrial processes on the scale required by long-term provisions. In addition, it is considered to be one of the few technologies that can be used in order to decrease the level of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.


In 2013 European Commission launched public consultation on the issue, with representatives of various stakeholders. Strong support for national roadmaps of decarbonization of Member States economies exists. Various stakeholders believe that these roadmaps should not restrict energy-mix chosen by Member States and highlight the significance of playing field for all low-carbon technologies. A significant number of participants draw attention to the need of holistic approach to the issue going beyond CO2 capture, emphasizing transportation and storage aspects, taking part of the focus away from the actual capture of carbon dioxide. Potential economies of scale linked to development of shared infrastructure are highlighted as one of the key arguments for emphasizing how equally important are all parts of CCS implementation. In order to effectively deploy the technology by 2030, commercial demonstrations and increase in R&D (especially - along with storage and transport infrastructure - exploration of carbon capture and usage and enhanced oil recovery options) needs to be implemented during the next decade.


A group of opposition to CCS development has emerged. Doubting CCS as a tool of climate change mitigation, they urge the governments to prioritize energy storage, renewables and adaptation to climate change. They see carbon capture storage development as a prolongment of widespread use of fossil fuels. However, while being applicable to industrial and power section and playing a crucial role in the switch to low-carbon economy, the importance of carbon capture and storage should not be understated.


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