Carbon Capture and Storage sceptics in the European Parliament revise their stance

frontpageingressimage_facIN.jpg Photo: Bellona archive

This development came much to Bellona’s delight, as evidenced by Paal Frisvold’s comments that “we are happy that the Greens in the EP now realise that we will not be able to achieve the necessary CO2 emissions reductions without the use of CCS.”

“They finally understand that we must invest in CCS as well as in increasing energy efficiency and developing renewable energy,” added Bellona Europa’s policy advisor.

CCS is a technology with the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while allowing fossil fuel use. With CCS, the CO2 arising from combustion of fossil fuel is captured, transported, and finally safely stored in an underground geological formation.

During the hearing, Europe’s leading CCS experts from the industry, the research community, and environmental organisations were invited by the EP’s Industry, Research, and Energy Committee to present their viewpoints.

Need for CCS acknowledged

Until last week, the EP’s Green Group had overall been resistant the development of CCS, fearing that CO2 stored in underground or sub-ocean geological formations could leak and arguing that investment in CCS would lead to lesser funds being available for the development of renewables and increasing energy efficiency.

However, the Greens’ recent “Vision Scenario for the European Union” states that “CCS could contribute significantly to future CO2 emission reduction”, essentially recognising the necessity to include CCS in any climate change mitigation strategy.

Safety aspects of CCS

Speaking on the safety aspects of CCS, Nick Riley of the UK Geological Survey cast aside the risk of dangerous leaks. “It is extremely unlikely that there will be any leakage,“ ascertained Riley, specifying that “should it (leakage) happen, we know to fix it.” The geologist finally added that “the challenges when it comes to CCS are socio-political, not technological.”

Compared to releasing CO2 into the atmosphere, CCS is clearly a preferable choice, and the potential for CO2 storage is enormous.

Antonio Pflüger of the International Energy Agency echoed these encouraging words, stating that so far CO2 storage has demonstrated good results and confidence in this technology must be increased.

Solar panels are not enough

During his presentation, Bellona President Frederic Hauge emphasised the enormous opportunities provided by CCS. Indeed, today’s level of CO2 emissions can be reduced by over 50% by 2050 within the EU with the help of CCS. CCS technology also allows for clean hydrogen production from fossil fuel sources, which could have substantial consequences on transport sector emissions.

Increasing energy efficiency and energy production from renewable sources have the potential to reduce greenhouse gases emissions in the long-term. However, implementing energy efficiency measures and adapting an energy source switch from fossil fuel to renewable energy at a realistic pace will not be sufficient to meet the required reduction in CO2 emissions.

Indeed, a considerable amount of energy is required to produce solar panels, wind turbines, and other infrastructure for renewable energy. In addition, a huge amount of solar panels and wind turbines will be needed to meet energy demands.

Considering the urgency of combating climate change, emissions must be cut rapidly, and therefore, CCS is a bridge to a future society where energy production will be based on renewable energy. As such, CCS has the potential to avoid dramatic climate changes and sustain quality of life while maintaining secure power generation for the next decades.

It seems like this reasonable argument has finally been heard.

Anne Karin Sæther

annekarin@bellona.no