European Commission launches CCS strategy

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The new package of communications from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament, currently expected on January 23d 2008, will also include legislative proposals on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Drafts of some of the communications are now being circulated for “inter-service consultations” within the Commission.

“We are very impressed by what we have seen of the Commission’s plans for regulating geological storage of carbon,” says Paal Frisvold, senior policy adviser at Bellona Europa.

The draft proposal covers issues such as monitoring of stored carbon, financial guarantees to cover liabilities, and exploration licences to search for suitable storage sites.

Under the draft communication dealing with support for CCS, future fossil fuel power plants in the EU may merely need to be compatible with carbon capture and storage (CCS) equipment. No date would be set for making actual installation of the equipment mandatory. The European Commission’s environment directorate (DG Environment) proposes to convince power utilities to deploy the technology primarily by awarding carbon credits in the EU’s Emission Trading System (ETS) to CCS plants for “avoided emissions”. Member States will also have the option of providing state aid for CCS. Bellona believes this is insufficient.

“As any new technology, CCS will at first be very expensive. Unless the carbon price in Europe sky-rockets, it will fail to promote CCS”, says Mr. Frisvold.

“CCS has the potential to cut global emissions radically through installation in a relatively small number of emission sources – mostly power plants. CCS technology is proven – it works and it is safe. This makes it an indispensable supplement to renewable energy and energy efficiency in the fight against climate change.

It is now only a question of scaling up in order to reduce costs. For that, CCS should be made mandatory for new fossil fuel power plants in the EU from 2020,” he adds.