While the share of renewable power generation is increasing, fossil fuels are expected to continue playing an important role in Europe in the short and medium term. CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion in power generation contribute to approximately 30% at EU level. Moreover, process industries like cement, iron and steel, aluminium, pulp and paper, and refineries, have inherent CO2 emissions resulting from raw material conversion. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies aim to capture as much as 85% - 90% of CO2 emissions from power plants and heavy industry before transporting it by pipeline or ship and storing it permanently and safely at least 800 metres below the earth’s surface.
Hence, CCS has been acknowledged as an important research and development priority of the Energy Union to achieve 2050 climate objectives in a cost-effective way.
The JRC, within its role as the European Commission's science and knowledge service, develops technological and scientific reports regarding Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) and Carbon capture and utilisation (CCU).
Carbon capture and storage gained more political attention in Europe from 2005. The first CCS communication dates from 2006. In 2007, CCS was included in the European agenda as an important tool to keep climate change in control. In 2009, the EU Directive on geological storage of CO2 (called CCS Directive) was published. CCS projects have benefited from funding mechanisms both at EU and national levels for R&D and demonstration. The JRC has contributed in several CCS-related policy initiatives of the European Commission with the following projects under development:
- The first EU CO2 storage atlas has been elaborated in partnership with European Geological Surveys.
- The JRC is also active on assessments regarding the technology and the economic and environmental impact of CO2 utilisation.
- JRC is issuing the SETIS magazine aiming at delivering timely information and analysis on the state of play of energy technologies, related research and innovation efforts in support of the implementation of the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan). One of the 2016 issues was dedicated to Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage.
- The JRC also strives to harvest knowledge from all key stakeholders in this area; as such we are also looking for synergies between different technologies, i.e., CCS and renewables.
The realisation of large-scale CCS projects in Europe has been challenging, with many projects being slowed down or canceled by financial restrictions, public acceptance and also lack of incentives. Initiatives on national level such as the Norwegian feasibility full-chain CCS studies as well as on EU level with, for example, the upcoming Innovation Fund could unlock the potential of CCS/CCU in Europe.