Bellona: Europe must commit to mandatory CO2 capture and storage

In Bellona’s strong opinion, the CO2 emissions ceiling must be set at 150 grams of CO2 per one kilowatt-hour of energy produced — something that in practice should lead to mandatory introduction of CO2 capture and storage (CCS) technologies at both coal and gas-based power plants.

Whether the CO2 emission ceiling will be enforced throughout the EU is currently under discussion as the EU is about to pass its climate and energy legislation. On October 7th, the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety voted for an emissions limit of 500 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour. In Bellona’s opinion, this limit is not enough, since gas-based power plants will then be able to hold off on the eventual goal of eliminating CO2 pollution entirely. 

Even though many European Parliament members support the policy of enforcing mandatory CCS at power plants, there are many influential forces that are still working against it. It is unlikely that all of the 27 EU member states will be willing to vote for such measures at the top-level EU meeting slated to take place on December 11th and 12th. Nonetheless, Bellona will continue to insist on more stringent limits for CO2 emissions in the belief that the tide will eventually turn on this pressing issue.

“It is absolutely necessary to forbid unclean coal and gas energy so that Europe can reach its ambitious emission reduction goals,” said Eivind Hoff, director of Bellona Europa.  “It is impossible to imagine that emissions could be reduced by 80 percent by 2050 if we continue to have highly-polluting power plants operating without purification systems in place,”

Climate change solutions will be more effective if CCS policies are enforced than without them, Hoff explained.

“If we do not stop dirty production of coal and gas energy, the energy industry will use up the better part of the CO2 emission quotas, and that will result in an enormous demand for the few quotas that will still be left,” he said.  “Emission quota prices will then go through the roof, and that could spell catastrophe for both the energy industry and energy consumers.”  

In a 2007 study on CO2 capture and storage, Bellona demonstrated that these technologies have the potential to reduce by 2050 carbon dioxide emissions globally by 33 per cent, and by as much as 54 percent in Europe, if only we truly commit ourselves to these goals.

In an October 2008 report, the European Technology Platform on Zero Emission Fossil Fuel Power Plants (ZEP) backed Bellona’s assessments. Bellona is working closely with ZEP, a panel that was set up by the European Commission to provide advice on how to promote CCS technologies and which includes more than 200 CCS experts from all over Europe.

CCS strategy is something that Bellona believes will provide a much-needed solution to the current climate crisis by curbing emissions generated through burning fossil fuel while the global community continues to work for ways to switch to renewable energy sources.