On July 12th, the European Commission announced their pre-selection* under the second call for large-scale projects of the Innovation Fund. The 17 pre-selected projects focus on key technologies for industrial decarbonisation and include project developers from different corners of Europe.
As an active participant in the expert group meetings for the Innovation Fund, Bellona is happy to have contributed to the design of the parameters for the Fund that led to the pre-selection of these projects.
Bellona welcomes the pre-selection of these projects since they show significant potential to reduce emissions from European cement and chemical industries and create clusters that can grow beyond the scope of the Fund.
Abating cement emissions and exploring storage opportunities
One of Bellona’s long-held priorities is the deployment of integrated CO2 capture, transport and storage chains. Bellona has long called for the deployment of CCS for cement, an industry with no viable alternatives for decarbonisation. The projects pre-selected in this 2nd Innovation Fund call for large-scale projects will certainly contribute to that development and increase the possibility for infrastructure sharing, not only in Northern Europe but also in Central and Eastern Europe.
- GO4ECOPLANET, a project located in Poland, will create a carbon capture, transport and storage chain starting from CO₂ capture and liquefaction at a cement plant to its storage in offshore sites.
- The CalCC project in France will capture the CO₂ emissions coming from process emissions emitted during lime production and store them permanently in offshore geological formations in the North Sea.
- The ANRAV project will be another full-chain carbon capture and storage project located in Bulgaria, linking CO₂ capture facilities at a cement plant with onshore and offshore pipelines leading to an offshore permanent storage in a depleted gas field in the Black Sea.
- The CODA Terminal in Iceland will build a scalable onshore carbon mineral storage terminal with an estimated overall storage capacity of 880 million tonnes of CO₂.
In addition to the integrated nature of these projects and their focus on industry, Bellona welcomes the geographical diversity of the projects which is necessary to provide access to crucial CO2 transport and storage infrastructure for industries across all Member States.
Supporting sorely needed renewable energy deployment and energy storage
Apart from supporting key infrastructure developments for CO2 transport and storage in the EU, the Innovation Fund pre-selection includes some key components necessary to reach carbon neutrality in the power sector:
- The N2OWF project will construct and operate an offshore windfarm in the German North Sea and will implement innovative solutions for turbines and hydrogen.
- The NorthSTOR PLUS project in Poland will create a manufacturing plant for innovative electrochemical battery systems to provide short-term electricity storage.
- The RISE project, located in the North of France, will build a manufacturing plant for more efficient photovoltaics.
- The ReLieVe project in France will construct a battery recycling plant in Dunkirk, providing access to a secondary source of battery raw material.
What slipped through the cracks – projects with questionable climate impact
While most of the projects will benefit climate action in industry, some could have a questionable carbon footprint and need to be monitored during their implementation and development.
- For instance, the PULSE project in Finland will process waste plastics into drop-in petrochemical feeds that will then be processed into other petrochemical products, some of which would include fuels destined for combustion. Refining fossil-based plastic waste into fuels results in additional emissions to the atmosphere and is not compatible with climate neutrality.
- A project in Germany, Carbon2Business, will deploy a second-generation oxyfuel carbon capture process at a cement plant and provide the fossil CO2 as raw material for further processing into synthetic methanol. While the development of oxyfuel carbon capture is a great contribution to climate action in cement, using a CO2 molecule of fossil origin is ultimately incompatible with carbon neutrality goals, especially if used to produce fuels. Further to this, the production of synthetic methanol requires large energy resources to produce the corresponding hydrogen.
- The AIR project in Sweden is similarly planning to use captured CO2 to make methanol, although it is unclear if the CO2 will be of atmospheric or biogenic origin.
- The FUREC project in the Netherlands plans to produce hydrogen from non-recyclable solid waste which is likely to be predominantly plastics of fossil origin. Given the usage of what is likely to be fossil waste, questions remain as to the sustainability of this project as it would ultimately result in additional emissions to the atmosphere.
- The HySkies project in Sweden aims to produce aviation fuel with CO2 from a waste incinerator and hydrogen from an electrolyser plant integrated into an operational environment. The impact of this project will depend on the share of fossil CO2 from the waste incinerator plant and the carbon intensity of the electricity used to produce hydrogen. For waste incineration, CCS remains the best-performing emission reduction strategy.
The origin of the CO2 used in these projects, particularly with potentially mixed sources such as waste incinerators, should be clarified to assess their full climate impact. This is an outstanding issue in the selection criteria of the Innovation Fund that Bellona will continue to engage on.
All CO2 should be kept away from the atmosphere, in particular CO2 of fossil origin. This means that it can technically be used to produce synthetic fuels and chemicals but needs to be accounted and payed for where it is captured in the EU ETS.
Overall, the 17 pre-selected projects form a sound basis for significant emission reductions in the industries of the EU. Bellona is proud to have collaborated with some of the applicants and wishes to congratulate them and the Commission for building momentum towards large-scale deployment of technologies which can lead us to climate neutrality.
At the same time, Bellona is cautious of the projects which appear to have questionable climate benefits and will continue to scrutinise the Fund to ensure it only supports effective projects.
- For a full list of projects, click here.
- For a summary and commentary on previous the Innovation Fund call, click here.
- For more information on our work on CCS in CEE, click here.
- For more information on our work on GHG accounting, click here.
* These projects have been pre-selected, which means there is a final step needed to finalise these. It is expected that the final selection of the projects will reflect this pre-selection.