The European Parliament adopted a resolution setting out guidelines for the EU’s energy strategy up to 2050 in a plenary vote on 14 March. The resolution recognizes the importance of CO2 capture and storage (CCS) in low emission electricity production in the future energy mix and stresses the need for commercial-scale deployment.
‘’We specifically welcome the fact that the Parliament is urging the Commission to support investment in CO2 pipeline infrastructure and to work on access to storage sites”, Hauge adds. ‘’This aspect is very important given the recent agreement on guidelines on Trans-European Energy Networks, which include CO2 transport networks as one of the priority areas. However the most important aspect, the level of EU financing, is still to be decided under the Connecting Europe Facility instrument, which depends on the final outcome of the EU budget negotiations”, he notes.
The EU Energy Roadmap 2050, published by the Commission in November 2011, clearly demonstrates that CCS is a key enabler for the cost-effective decarbonisation of the EU energy system. Based on five different decarbonisation scenarios, the Roadmap states that CCS could account for up to one-third of decarbonised electricity generation by the middle of the century, according to one scenario. The share of CCS in decarbonising the power sector is estimated at 19% to 24% in other scenarios.
The Danish EU Presidency adopted Conclusions on the Roadmap in June 2012 in which the Member States called on the Commission to deliver the CCS Communication without delay. The Parliament’s resolution includes a similar call.
‘’Bellona applauds the Parliament’s call on the Commission to deliver the CCS Communication. Such a Communication is crucial in light of the current delays in the EU CCS Programme’’, Hauge says. ‘’In the EU, CCS can provide not only decarbonisation potential but also a great value to the economy in terms of job creation, re-industrialization, and cheaper energy for consumers’’, he concludes.
Bellona commented on a draft CCS Communication back in January.
CCS highlighted in all key chapters of the final resolution
The Parliament reiterates the need for a CCS Communication to be published without delay. This is a timely call given that some policy makers in Brussels were recently questioning the need for the EU to invest in and demonstrate the CCS technology in the short term. The Commission is expected to publish this long-awaited communication in parallel with the Green paper on 2030 climate and energy framework on 27 March.
The Parliament stresses the need for commercial-scale deployment of CCS and its key role in decarbonisation of several energy intensive industries such as oil refining, aluminum smelting and cement production.
Another key provision approved by a coalition of Christian Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives states that “[…] the increasing importance of electricity in the future energy mix requires that all means of low-carbon electricity production (involving conversion efficiency, renewables, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and nuclear energy) will need to be harnessed if climate goals are to be achieved without jeopardising competitiveness and security of supply“.
The MEPs highlight the role of policy intervention, public funding and appropriate CO2 price to ensure early CCS deployment. They acknowledge the importance of the EU demonstration programme and call on the Commission to draw up a mid-term report evaluating the results from the use of EU-funded demonstration projects for coal-fired power stations.
The MEPs also urge the Commission to support early investment in CO2 pipeline infrastructure and to coordinate cross-border planning among Member States to ensure access to CO2 sinks from 2020. This call is particularly relevant in light of a recent agreement on guidelines on Trans-European Energy Networks, which include CO2 transport networks as one of the priority areas.
Moreover, the MEPs call on the Commission to work with Member States and industry on building public support for CCS and on fostering cooperation with the BRICS countries with regard to this key technology.
Targets and CO2 market fix in the EP resolution
As for other provision of the resolution there was broad agreement on the need to develop the EU’s energy generation capacity and to reduce energy consumption in order to increase energy security. However, the MEPs disagreed on how these goals could be achieved.
One of the most divisive amendments called on the European Commission to propose binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions. This amendment fell by a margin of just 27 votes. The amendments calling on binding targets on energy efficiency and renewable energy were also rejected by slim majority.
The European Parliament upheld a recommendation for setting aside a number of emission allowances units (EAUs) in order to fix the oversupply problem by a margin of three votes. The decisive vote on this measure, i.e. backloading, will take place in a plenary session in April. Backloading is expected to boost the record-low EAUs prices. This, in turn, would increase the funding available under the NER300 in the second phase of the competition which would help any CCS project that could eventually benefit from the funding.