On the 6th of September, the Building momentum for CCS deployment in the CEE region conference took place in Brussels, organised by Bellona Europa as part of the ongoing CCS4CEE project. The event brought together CCS stakeholders from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), including industry representatives, national governments, civil society and academia, as well as EU institutions.
While several topics were discussed during the event, a recurring theme throughout each session was the need for multiple modalities transporting CO2 to storage. And rightfully so; as highlighted by Bellona Europa and CATF’s ongoing #TenTTuesday campaign, the Central Eastern European region (perhaps even more than its Western counterpart) will need to rely on the road, rail as well as ship and barge transport to spark market development and enable CCS to play its necessary role in the region’s decarbonisation efforts.
The reason for multiple transport modalities being particularly relevant in the CEE region is that several CEE countries are landlocked. They will therefore have to export their CO2 to neighbouring countries for permanent offshore storage. As discussed during the event, securing support for onshore underground storage can be difficult. Additionally, emission clusters are, in some cases, low in density, with smaller volumes of CO2 to transport to storage – not sufficient to justify infrastructure such as pipelines from the emitters themselves. Currently, as building cross-border CO2 pipeline infrastructure isn’t on the political agenda of many CEE countries’ governments, many emitters are looking towards ships, rail, barges and trucks to transport their CO2 emissions to permanent storage.
As Dr Marko Maver, representative of the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning of Slovenia, has noted, the momentum is building in Central and Eastern Europe at an unprecedented rate with more potential than ever to kickstart several CCS projects, first and foremost in Poland and Bulgaria, to create CCS hubs as well as to explore viable CO2 storage possibilities in the region.
However, as MEP Cristian Busoi, Chairman of the ITRE Committee in the European Parliament, pointed out, “we need to be very exact to give the right opportunities to fund the projects related to CCS and CCUS and the role of CO2 transport infrastructure”. For multiple transport modalities of CO2 to be considered an option, achieving EU (as well as national) level recognition and support mechanisms are crucial.
The recently revised EU ETS Directive, proposed by the European Commission, will recognise multiple transport modalities of CO2 once passed by the co-legislators. This is a step in the right direction, but for the use of multiple transport modalities to be realised at the necessary scale and achieve widespread deployment of CCS, recognition and positive market signals are needed to enable first-movers. First-movers tend to be exposed to more risks when considering less commonly used technologies as part of their decarbonisation strategies. If uncertainties persist around multiple transport modalities’ role in the development of a European CO2 transport to the storage network, first-movers looking to decarbonise might face significant delays due to perceived risks that could relatively easily be reduced. Industries should also be enabled to tap into financial support to bring about such infrastructure development projects within the next years. Such financial support will also contribute to further reducing financial risks for first movers looking to capture emissions and transport them to storage
The European Union is currently facing an opportunity to reduce perceived risks associated with multiple transport modalities for CO2 to storage for first movers. Granting multimodal CO2 transport to storage projects PCI (Project of Common Interest) status under the TEN-T Regulation would send a strong signal to emitters considering deploying CCS as part of their decarbonisation strategies. In particular, this would be important for emitters with smaller volumes of CO2 to transport to storage, who will not be able to justify investment in fixed CO2 transport infrastructure, such as pipelines, on their own. Several industrial players could tap into new funding streams primarily from the Connecting Europe Facility under the TEN-T Regulation and speed up the development of the CO2 transport infrastructure (and, by extension, CCS deployment). This would also enable the development of different transport solutions based on what is most suited to individual plants, according to the specific geographical properties of the regions where each industrial facility is located. In the long-term, this would lead to larger volumes of captured CO2 in the region, enabling commonly built CO2 infrastructure, such as pipelines, and contribute to setting its importance on the agenda of national governments.
The case of Slovenia, presented at the conference, serves as a good example. As Dr Marko Maver, representative of the Slovenian government, pointed out, CO2 storage is not permitted within the country’s borders, which means that any captured CO2 must be transported to neighbouring countries for storage. What Slovenia would therefore need from the European Commission, he continued, is to “push forward financing and encouraging the development of multiple transport infrastructure and multimodal transport infrastructure. So, ships, trucks, rails and so forth. I think that’s what’s going to drive CCS not only in Slovenia but in neighbouring countries as well”.
Salonit Anhovo, the Slovenian cement manufacturer, for instance, would require support for rail transport of CO2 – as conveniently enough the cement plant is located near already existing railway infrastructure. According to a CO2 transportation feasibility study conducted by Deloitte for Salonit Anhovo, in the absence of not only CO2 pipeline infrastructure itself but general government-level discussions related to the possibility of building such pipelines, alternative transport methods must be considered. Rails and ships were cited as some of the most realistic alternatives in the case of the Slovenian cement plant to reach the nearest potential CO2 storage sites in Italy or Croatia (as shown below).
Source: Deloitte Central and Eastern Europe, https://ccs4cee.eu/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Sara-Lupo-Deloitte.pdf
Tomaz Vuk, Chairman of the Board of Salonit Anhovo, in charge of the decarbonisation process of the cement plant, also mentioned that first movers might be able to gain an economic advantage from getting a head start in decarbonising their production processes. This, in return, can make decarbonisation attractive and speed up the green transition of harder-to-abate industries. For this to happen, however, EU support and recognition of all modalities transporting CO2 to storage is imperative.
The Slovenian example is, however, not unique, as it was pointed out by one of the CCS4CEE project’s experts, Kamil Laskowski. Polish CCS stakeholders, Laskowski added, often mention that while EU-level legislation tends to give preference to CO2 transport by pipelines, upcoming pilot and demonstration projects would rather rely on “conventional’ transport methods, for instance, road, barges or rail.
Maciej Malicki from Air Liquide Poland explained that the company is looking to use railways to transport CO2 as part of their Poland–EU CCS Interconnector project, citing the low density of the clusters of emitters currently involved in the project as the reason. In further stages of the project, they plan to rely on yet-to-be-built CO2 pipeline infrastructure. However, delaying CCS deployment until such pipelines are built is likely to delay the widespread application of the technology in the region by years.
In cases of landlocked countries, in particular, the feasibility of cross-border transportation to offshore storage in other countries is essential, as securing public support for onshore CO2 storage can be quite difficult – noted Chris Bolesta, CO2 capture, utilisation and storage policy lead of DG ENER. In the absence of CO2 pipeline infrastructure, support for multiple transport modalities is essential to kickstart CCS deployment in many Central Eastern European landlocked countries.
The EU should ensure that the revision of the TEN-T Regulation does not miss out on this great opportunity to ensure recognition of multiple transport modalities such as ship, rail, barge and truck in bringing CO2 to storage. Sending a positive market signal and encouraging industrial decarbonisation across Europe, in particular in regions where such modalities will be essential to kick-start market development. This is what Bellona Europa and CATF are currently working towards as part of our campaign #TenTTuesday.
 Read Bellona Europa’s interview with the Chairman of the Board of Salonit Anhovo here: Rail and Ship Transport of CO2 to Storage: Key to Enable Slovenian Industrial Decarbonisation at Salonit Anhavo Cement Plant – Bellona.org