The CCS Summit was organised jointly by Forum Europe and Bellona Europa.
Lars Strömberg, vice-president for research and development at the large Swedish-owned utility Vattenfall, disagreed with Davies remarks on utilities’ risk aversion, pointing to his own company’s CCS pilot plant at Schwarze Pumpe.
He concurred with the findings previously published by the McKinsey Global Institute on the financial viability of CCS technology. Strömberg estimated that after 2030, CCS will be more efficient and thus profitable in comparison to normal coal plants that have to pay for their emissions.
Despite the bright long-term prospects of CCS, the question remains of how we will close the gap between the current state of affairs and the building of the profitable ‘450th plant’, as Strömberg put it. The resources made available through the so-called NER 300 in addition to the ERP (€1.05bn) are significant yet insufficient to fund the commercial viability of CCS technology by 2020.
Chris Davies argued that the 2020 goal will only be achieved if there is a greater degree of certainty perceived by industry. From a short-term perspective, transparency and speedy decision-making on how NER 300 funds will be administered and distributed amongst member states and individual projects is required.
From a short-term perspective, the appropriate funding by member states is a key factor needed to convince industry to build large-scale CCS demonstration plants. Beyond that, the speedy deployment of CCS would be facilitated by the introduction of a CO2 Emission Performance Standard. This would provide regulatory certainty of the need to invest in CCS technology. An increase in carbon pricing through the Emission Trading Scheme or similar mechanisms, Davies argued, is not enough.
Other potential impediments to a speedy deployment of CCS were discussed, including the issue of agreeing an Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) framework, the engagement of all stakeholders (industry, NGOs, national governments etc.) and the mapping of appropriate storage sites. Recent success stories such as Total’s Lacq project and Hydrogen Energy’s Bakersfield plant in California, however, point towards how this can be done in practice.
From a broader perspective, Bjørn Utgård of Bellona reminded the attendees that CCS must not be viewed as an alternative but an addition to renewable energies. This is especially true for biomass which, when used in conjunction with CCS, can lead to carbon negative energy production. Moreover, Utgård placed the decarbonisation process in a broader context, looking beyond the energy industry.
“There is a lot of steel that will be needed to build the windmills of the future. Steel manufacturing produces huge process emissions of CO2. CCS is the only way to get completely rid of them,” Utgård said.