Utilities feign interest in CCS to get public bail out

CCS Steam

Four of Europe’s biggest power utilities, represented in Brussels by Eurelectric, have decided to leave the European Commission’s CCS Technology Platform ZEP. The news comes a day after Eurelectric announced the establishment of a separate utilities-only CCS “task force”. The message sent by these conflating events is not to be misunderstood: Fossil power utilities want sole control of the CCS debate.

What will Eurelectric’s new CCS task force do that ZEP will not? Serve itself first and the climate second: It is no secret that what Eurelectric’s members want more than anything is capacity payments (public funds to operate backup-power to renewables, but mostly to prevent their own bankruptcy), and that these should not be tied to CCS delivery. Chancellor Angela Merkel has said capacity payments won’t happen, yet the utilities choose to turn their backs on the Commission’s CCS Technology Platform in their pursuit.

Of the move, Bellona Europa Director Jonas Helseth said: – In their poorly concealed attempts to attain capacity payments, Europe’s utilities have misused the trust of the European Commission and Europe’s CCS community. It’s shameless how Eurelectric proudly announces the formation of a new CCS taskforce and ‘calls on policymakers to push ahead’, while simultaneously pulling out of Europe’s largest and widest coalition working on CCS.

CCS is a vital climate technology regardless of whether we use fossil power. CCS can deliver sustainable industrial growth and carbon negative emissions with Bio-CCS. As the IPCC made unequivocally clear in its report of last year: We will not achieve deep and quick enough emission cuts to stay within the 2DS without CCS. The fossilised power utilities are happy to play smoke and mirrors with the European people and its representatives, feigning interest in CCS, but knowing they are structurally, commercially and culturally incapable of delivering it.

Eurelectric’s CCS “task force” will soon enough be revealed as the Trojan horse it is. Meanwhile ZEP will remain a unique collaboration between NGOs, academics, equipment suppliers, oil and gas producers and others that are dedicated to CCS delivery and working with European policy makers to decarbonise Europe.

Rendered immobile by the onset of rigor mortis, unable to even comprehend let alone adapt to the changing energy landscape, some things remain certain: The carbon constrained world in which these conventional utilities no longer exist gets ever nearer, and we will continue working on CCS and all other necessary climate technologies to get us there.

 For comment, contact Director of Bellona Europa Jonas Helseth at +32 (0) 494 53 58 21