Jun 07 2016

Attitudes to CCS, CCU and coal’s place in NER400

This article is written from the published responses to the European Commission consultation on revision of the EU Emission Trading System (EU ETS) Directive, which closed on 16 March 2015.

***UPDATE 17 June 2016: Information on the Belgian government’s position has been published (integrated below).***

CCS

Pro

Except for the companies trying to earn money from CCS technology and the associations that support them, Sandbag is the most fervently pro-CCS respondent. It said, “The Commission should bring forward proposals for an EU-wide target for greenhouse gas sequestration, in order to stimulate Member States to offer the support to CCS, as has happened successfully with the Renewables targets.” (Editor’s note: a future article will cover its radical position on earmarking in ETS Innovation Fund).

Two speak up for ‘Bio-CCS’, in which the CO2 released from the combustion of biomass is stored rather than vented to the atmosphere, Bellona and Magnus Nilsson Produktion. The latter says, “Storing 80% of the emission from a coal plant is not good enough while storing 25 % of the CO2 from a biomass fuelled plant is extremely interesting. It might be worth favouring CCS in combination with biomass use.”

Austrian Federal Economic Chamber — Wirtschaftskammer Österreich (WKÖ) says, “So far, the funding of renewable energy projects has been the main focus of the NER 300. However, more effort should be undertaken to realise European projects for CCS.”

CCS is the third priority of Carbon Market Watch / Nature Code and five other NGOs, and then only for industrial applications, not power generation (the line taken by MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, also).

Member States

Speaking at the Green Growth Summit on 17 September 2015, Amber Rudd (the UK’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change), said that the fact that ETS Innovation Fund would be “open to Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) and industrial low carbon projects for first time” was one of three things the UK liked about the EC’s proposals for Phase IV of the ETS. On 26 November, however, the UK government cancelled funding for its own flagship CCS programme.

The Belgian government, in three lines on ETS Innovation Fund in its position paper circulated to the Council of Ministers, wrote, “Specific projects for the capture or use of carbon dioxide should also be eligible for funding from this innovation fund.”

Anti

Projekt21plus: “We have to note that we see critical aspect about the technology of CCS, concerning acceptance and feasibility and are not in favor to support further research in CCS with EU finances.”

Glass for Europe and 11 glass companies say CCS is a “very costly end-of-pipe technique, subject to critics and lack of acceptance.”

CEMBUREAU is also put off by the cost: “The most important point for CCS is that the operational costs of a plant equipped with post-combustion carbon capture technology are expected to be double the cost of a conventional cement plant.” So are CIPCEL and CPME: “For years the NER300 program has targeted CCS linked to power generation and the result is disappointing due to the massive infrastructure costs and time needed to implement CCS properly.” EPF says, “The NER300 programme hasn’t been fully implemented because of the huge cost of CCS projects.” Its solution would be to trap CO2 by making durable products out of wood.

Metal producers are also inclined to scepticism. Aluminium producer Trimet: “it should be scrutinized whether the funding of CCS technology is still appropriate”. Aurubis (copper producer) asks whether resource-efficiency and a list of other technologies would be more cost-efficient than CCS. It and Royal DSM (generalist materials producer) wonder whether CCS is the right “focus”.

Opposition is found in central Europe from two Czech organisations (CEZ and Czech chamber of commerce) and the Polish government (including more recent statements). Bavaria (Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Consumer Protection) is condemnatory: “CCS is no realistic option in near future.”

CCS in industry

The European Lime Association, EuLA, points out that in lime manufacture, “68% of the total CO2 emissions are so-called ‘process emissions’ originating from the decarbonation of the limestone.” The challenge of decarbonising sectors with a high proportion of “irreducible ‘process’ emissions” was highlighted by its Spanish member, ANCADE. E3G appears to consider that they as well as chemicals, pulp & paper, and steel “should be given ‘priority focus'” as “electrification is not a viable option” for them.

Different technological responses are proposed to tackle process emissions. EuLA favours CCS, but UNESID, which represents steel manufacturers, proposed moving from carbon to hydrogen as a reducing agent: “The case of hydrogen is a clear case in which a demonstration or pilot plant would need a very tailor-made support, since these kind of plants neither are or are expected to be profitable in a short/medium even long term. It would need [an] affordable and widespread [hydrogen] generation and distribution.”

CCU — carbon capture and use

CEEP is the most enthusiastic supporter of CCU, more so than when it responded to the 2014 public consultation (compare 2015 “We strongly advise including CCU as having a substantial chance of success” with 2014: “new developments concerning a decrease of CO2 emissions should be supported starting from power production efficiency, no matter if it is based on coal, gas or other sources of energy such as RES and the utilisation of CO2“).

CEMBUREAU: “Given the issues related to CO2 storage, R&D related to new alternatives to reuse or valorize the CO2 captured should be promoted and financially supported. […] Regulatory barriers, such as the one related to the ‘Transferred CO2‘ (included in the MRV of the EU-ETS for the period 2013-2020) which only allows the subtraction of the transferred CO2 if it will be ‘for the purpose of long-term geological storage’ should be removed.”

Projekt21plus “could imagine” a programme “with focus on recycling of carbon instead of storage” providing it does not lead to “any additional emissions”. It singles out methanation, which is a technique for storing electricity also known as ‘power-to-gas’, as an example of where such recycling would be “imaginable”. Two other respondents, ENAGAS and IOGP, referred to power-to-gas as a technology to store electricity (ENAGAS advocating the use of gas in transport applications). Others spoke about electricity storage more generally (see below). Exclude coal from ETS Innovation Fund’s scope, Projekt21plus proposes.

Royal DSM, Aurubis and VIK (materials / power) wonder if CCU isn’t more cost-efficient than CCS. [Editor’s comment: maybe, but the two technologies serve different purposes]

Coal

Martin Korolec, Poland’s Government plenipotentiary for climate policy, wrote that ETS Innovation Fund “should be eligible for all low-emission energy technologies, including clean coal technologies.”

Polish Lime Association (Stowarzyszenie Przemyslu Wapienniczego) said, “the development of so-called clean coal technologies and low-emission and high-efficiency coal technology should find its place in the development of climate policy.”