A new weapon in the fight against climate change

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) was not included in the current Kyoto Protocol. Hauge underlined that this weapon must be part of a new international agreement Post-Kyoto.

General Assembly
The General Assembly of the General Assembly of the European Technology Platform on Zero Emission Fossil Fuel Power Plants (ZEP) took place in Paris on October 3rd. The meeting was attended by around 300 representatives from European trade and industry, research organisations, political institutions and the environmental movement.

Frederic Hauge, President of the Bellona Foundation, is also vice chairman of the ZEP. He began his address by pointing out the fact that climate change has proven more grave, extensive and rapid than presupposed during last year’s general assembly.

During the early days of 2007, the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had already become outdated literature. An average global temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius is inevitable, and the progression is self-amplifying: The more snow and ice that melts, the less of the sun’s radiation is deflected back causing the ice to melt faster. And as the permafrost thaws, more methane gas is released into the atmosphere, causing increased global warming.

One third can be removed

Hauge emphasized the fact that implementation of more energy efficient technologies and the development of more renewable energy production are central means in battling further global warming. Regrettably, these two measures alone would not be sufficient. More than 80 percent of our current energy consumption stems from fossil fuel sources, like coal, gas and oil. It will take many years before the world has achieved a sufficient transfer to renewable energy sources. Moreover, we need a lot of energy to produce all the windmills and solar panels necessary for such a transition, and at present, there is not enough renewable energy available to meet this need.

Through CCS from large sources, it is possible to remove as much as 33 percent of the global CO2 emissions in 2050, compared to today’s levels. For the EU, the potential emission cuts are as high as 50 percent, according to calculations conducted by Dr. Aage Stangeland of the Bellona Foundation. Dr. Stangelands’ work will be central to the ZEP’s further efforts.

“This potential is enormous, and there is no way around this. These options were not as well known five years ago, but as the new climate talks start on Bali later this year, the issue of carbon capture and storage must be given a central role,” Hauge said in his address to the ZEP platform.

Flagship

ZEP’s so called “Flagship Programme” has as its objective to establish 10 to12 European demonstration projects by 2015. Hauge believes that the programme will enhance international efforts toward CCS, and create optimism ahead of the coming climate talks on Bali.

The ZEP chairman, Professor Kurt Häge, said in his speech that the Flagship Programme will assign Europe a leading role the development of CCS competence and technologies, and create important experiences that the rest of the world will benefit from.

“Through the Flagship Programme, we will make sure that carbon capture and storage will be commercial viable by 2020,” Häge said.

ZEP’s objective is to ensure that all fossil fuelled power plants in Europe – both existing and new ones – will have CCS technology in place by 2020.

Everybody must pay
There was a broad consensus among the participants at the General Assembly about the urgency of the situation and the need to establish CCS technology in Europe and the rest of the world. However, the participants were not unanimous when it came to the question of economical responsibility.

ZEP-chair Häge made it clear that both the European Union and individual states – in addition to industry itself – will have to contribute financially.

Financing capture installations, transportation solutions and storage are among the most crucial challenges for CCS in the near future. ZEP, EU institutions and others are now at work hammering out the necessary legal structures.

Mongstad
Liv-Monica Stubholt, recently appointed state secretary at the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, held a short presentation during the General Assembly. She emphasized the Norwegian experiences made in connection with the Sleipner project, and efforts now being made at the Mongstad and Kårstø installations.

“As far as I know, Mongstad is the first project where a government cooperates with a private enterprise at such an early stage as we do,” Stubholt said.

The Commission
By the end of 2007, the European Commission will present two communications, or “white papers,” that will make concrete the EU-policy on CCS. The Commission’s attention will be aimed at the clarification of legal issues and the financial models, both this year and the next. This will include rules for financial support to private enterprise’s CCS expenses from national governments.

Jan Panec from the European General Directorate for Transport and Energy expressed that the Commission has been very pleased with the cooperation of ZEP, and he underlined the necessity of ZEP speaking with one voice.

Bellona in ZEP
Bellona has participated in the ZEP platform since it was established by the European Commission in 2005. Today, Bellona has four representatives in ZEP. Apart from Frederic Hauge, the group consists of Paal Frisvold, Aage Stangeland and Beate Kristiansen.

Frisvold’s work in ZEP is chiefly focused on legal and financial issues, while Hauge and Stangeland is involved in the selection process for the Flagship Programme. Stangeland is also working on technological issues. Kristiansen takes part in the management of the projects’ efforts to inform the public about CCS.

Anne Karin Sæther

annekarin@bellona.no