Research institute warns of EU climate change failure without CCS

A leading research institute attached to London’s Imperial College is about to produce a report which recommends the spending of €35bn by 2030 in carbon capture and storage if Europe is to meet the aims of its climate change strategy.

Among the recommendations by the Grantham Institute is one that identifies the potential of oil recovery in funding the UK’s CCS industry but the report is quite strong in its view that EU nations will not reduce emissions sufficiently to avoid dangerous climate change unless they significantly increase investment in CCS technology.

Between €11bn and €35bn (à‚£8bn and à‚£25bn) of investment is needed by 2030 to install the 11 GW of capacity with CCS the European Commission has forecast.

CCS is involved in all of the scenarios in the European Union’s ‘Energy Roadmap 2050’, which aims to reduce annual emissions of greenhouse gases in line with the target of avoiding global warming of more than 2C.

However, the Grantham paper finds EU policies have so far provided just €1.3bn for the development of the technology, and few member states have put forward incentives to support CCS deployments. Moreover, the price of carbon in the EU emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) is considered unlikely to hit the €35-€60 per tonne needed to make coal-fired CCS power cost competitive with fossil fuel plants or the €90-€105 that would deliver the same tipping point for gas plants in the next decade.

As such, the report authors will today call on EU member states, including the UK, to accelerate CCS development, recommending that stronger support for the technology from both the public and private sector is needed to bring down costs.

The report says ‘priority actions’ for the next five years include a new funding mechanism to finance early-stage development projects, financial incentives for electricity generation using carbon capture and storage, increased support from public financial institutions and mandatory targets to stimulate further action by the private sector.

“Above all, the EU and its member states must show much greater urgency and determination to develop and deploy CCS, otherwise it will not be able to contribute towards the demanding targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, perhaps making them significantly more difficult and/or expensive to achieve,” the report says.

Grantham says without that goal, the EU will fail to take advantage of a crucial carbon reduction technology and is also at risk of losing a potentially lucrative industry overseas.

Luke Warren, chief executive of the CCS Association (CCSA) told Euractiv, “Failure to develop CCS will have serious implications for the competitiveness of the EU economy, making climate goals more expensive to deliver and providing no long-term future for energy intensive industries.”

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