Rotterdam angling to host EU CCS revival

The Dutch city of Rotterdam is offering to facilitate a European drive in carbon capture and storage by offering to store greenhouse gases at a facility off its coast.

CCS has, bar a few notable exceptions, foundered so far on the reluctance of industry to bear up-front costs, however that attitude has altered, with stakeholders now believing that the technology is cheaper than abandoning assets as political pressure grows following December’s Paris Agreement on climate change.
Port of Rotterdam
Rotterdam is home to the sole survivor of a dozen European Union pilot plans to test CCS technology that has been thwarted by years of false starts. The power station is owned by Uniper, the unit into which Germany‘s E.ON has spun off its coal and gas-fired power stations.

The ROAD pilot project would capture around 1 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year from a local coal-fired power station over a three-year pilot phase. It would compress them, then pump them into a depleted gas field.

Uniper and French power company Engie have jointly invested EUR100m into the project. Other funds come from the Dutch government and the European Commission.

“We are extremely positive it will materialize,” Allard Castelein, chief executive of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, told Reuters, adding he expected a final investment decision on the 500 million euro ($555 million) project this year.

Rotterdam has an existing network of pipes that can be used for carbon shipments. Its location makes it easily accessible to Belgian and German as well as local Dutch industry, differentiating it from the abandoned EU schemes.

Future expansion could mean shipping carbon dioxide from international industry through pipes or on tankers into the giant harbor near disused offshore gas fields that could store hundreds of millions of tonnes.

Hans Schoenmakers, a director at Uniper and at ROAD, told Reuters, “There is a general belief there is no way around it,” he said. “We have to meet targets for CO2 reduction.”

However, the definitive go-ahead might take until early next year, he added.

Stuart Haszeldine, a CCS professor at Edinburgh University, says it is essential to establish CCS through trial schemes, such as the one in Rotterdam that begin small but can grow to achieve economies of scale and connect to other projects.

“If this does not happen, then, logically, all the carbon extracting companies should gradually become defunct,” he said.

Meanwhile in the UK CCS advocates hope the re-vamped energy portfolio will reconsider its position on the technology following a National Audit Office report “Sustainability in the spending review”. The NAO report indicated some concern at the rationale the Cameron government used to halt investment in CCS.

Dr Luke Warren, Chief Executive of the CCSA, commented: “This report unequivocally shows that the full costs and impact of delaying CCS were not adequately considered in the run up to the cancellation of the CCS competition. Whilst HM Treasury judged that the competition was aiming to deliver CCS before it was cost efficient to do so, the Energy Technologies Institute has shown that a ten-year delay to CCS could add an additional à‚£1-2 billion to consumers’ bills every year throughout the 2020s.”

The new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will be well-placed to deliver a more holistic and strategic approach to CCS and we look forward to building a constructive relationship with the department”.

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