CCS Activities of the European Union

Horizon 2020 is the EU Research and Innovation programme with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020). Within Horizon 2020, Energy research and innovation has an essential role to play in addressing the challenge of satisfying security of energy supply, competitiveness of the EU industry and ensuring affordable prices for the citizens, whilst at the same time combating climate change.

Horizon 2020 supports the decarbonisation of the fossil fuels-based power sector and CO2 intensive industry in the transition to a fully low-carbon economy. This includes both cleaner production as well as end-of-pipe solutions. The focus is on the development of the next generation of cost-efficient CO2 capture technologies, the application of CCUS to a range of industrial processes (e.g. steel, cement etc.), the demonstration of safe geological storage of CO2, and the use of captured CO2 to produce high-value products or fuels. In addition, the challenge of improving the efficiency and flexibility of fossil fuel power generation as well as the environmental impact of the exploitation of unconventional fossil resources are addressed. http://ec.europa.eu/research/horizon2020/index_en.cfm

In the revised Emission Trading System (EU ETS) directive, adopted by Parliament and Council in December 2008, 300 million allowances have been set aside from the so-called “New Entrants Reserve,” until 2015, for the support - through 2 calls for proposals - of large-scale demonstration projects in the areas of CCS and innovative renewables (NER300). This is a substantial fund for demonstration of low-carbon technologies which will be used to establish public-private partnerships, with up to 50 percent funding of extra costs from NER and EEPR (see below) combined, and the remainder coming from project owners and Member States. Meanwhile, the NER300 outcome from the first call for proposals is known. Nearly all RES projects proposed by Member States were confirmed. However, none of the CCS projects could be retained as a result of lack of adequate confirmation by concerned Member States. This was due to various reasons. In some cases there were funding gaps, while other CCS projects were not sufficiently mature to allow for such confirmation under the first call for proposals.  The second call closed on July 3rd 2013, and one CCS project (from the UK) has been submitted. 

The Emissions Trading System (ETS) was established to deliver EU emissions reduction goals in a harmonised and cost-effective manner. The fact that companies have the choice to purchase allowances if needed to cover their emissions, or sell left-over allowances if they have performed well at reducing emissions, allows the system to find the most cost-effective ways of reducing emissions in the short, medium and long term.

However, in the aftermath of the severe economic crisis the system is characterised by a structural imbalance between the supply and demand of allowances, resulting in a surplus of around 2 billion allowances not needed for compliance. This imbalance has developed mainly in 2011 and 2012, and is expected to persist for at least a decade, if not longer.

As a short term measure to mitigate the effects of the surplus it was decided to postpone (“back-load”) the auctioning of 900 million allowances in the early years of phase 3 (2013-2020). In addition, a Market Stability Reserve shall be established in 2018 and the placing of allowances in the reserve shall operate from 1 January 2019. The 900 million back-loaded allowances will be placed directly in the reserve. The remaining allowances that are unallocated by at the end of the current trading phase (2020) will also be placed in the reserve.

Efforts to address the market imbalance would also be helped by a faster reduction in the EU ETS cap. To achieve the target of a 40% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2030, set out in the 2030 framework for climate and energy policy, the cap will need to be lowered by 2.2% per year from 2021, compared with 1.74% currently. This amounts to an additional emissions reduction in the sectors covered by the ETS of some 556 million tonnes over the decade − equivalent to the annual emissions of the UK.

As a result of these structural measures, the price of CO2 (currently around 5€/ton) is expected rise significantly towards 2021, which should improve the business case for CCS. 
Finally, under the ETS revision, several support mechanisms will be established to help the industry and the power sectors meet the innovation and investment challenges of the transition to a low-carbon economy. These include two new funds:

  • Innovation Fund – extending existing support for the demonstration of innovative technologies to breakthrough innovation in industry
  • Modernisation Fund – facilitating investments in modernising the power sector and wider energy systems and boosting energy efficiency in 10 lower-income Member States

Under the European Energy Programme for Recovery (EEPR), €1 billion EU funding has been awarded in 2009 to six integrated CCS demonstration projects in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. The EEPR money enabled a fast start of all six projects. 

Unfortunately, the low carbon price under the Emissions Trading System (ETS) has rendered the business case for CCS unattractive. Moreover, the current economic context has made it more difficult for projects to access the additional financing needed. Against this background, by December 2013, 3 projects had been terminated (DE, PL and IT), and for a fourth (ES), the EEPR co-funded phase was followed by a negative Final Investment Decision. The remaining two projects (NL and UK) are still active, and the NL project should hopefully reach a positive Final Investment Decision in the course of 2016. 

The European CCS Demonstration Project Network has been established to support first-mover CCS demonstration projects, particularly on issues which represent common challenges. The network allows early movers to exchange information and experience, to maximize their impact on further R&D and policy making, and to optimize costs through shared collective actions. The first projects to populate the knowledge-sharing network are the demonstration projects co-funded under the EEPR (see above) and the Norwegian Sleipner project. http://www.ccsnetwork.eu/index.php 

The EU CCS Directive 2009/31/EC on geological storage of CO2 was approved in April 2009. EU Members are required to transpose this directive into national legislation by 2011. Importantly, the Directive requires that all storage sites be assessed following the EIA Directive. A complementary, comprehensive set of guidelines is scheduled has been published in April 2011.

CCS Project Activities   

The EU has supported research, development and demonstration of clean coal and CCS technologies for more than 20 years, starting in the Third Framework Programme (FP3, 1990-1994). Research funding in clean coal and CCS in FP5 and FP6 was in the order of € 85 million. Under the 7th Framework Programme (FP7), which finished in 2013, funding for clean coal and CCS added up to around €200 million. Current support to CCUS is provided under Horizon 2020, the Union's Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (http://ec.europa.eu/research/index.cfm?lg=en). An overview of closed and ongoing projects can be found at http://cordis.europa.eu/projects/home_en.html.

The Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS) is an industrial Community programme with its own legal basis, distinct from – but supplementary to – the Framework Programmes. Building on the exceptional success of the research programmes of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the assets left (€1600 Million) at the expiry of the ECSC Treaty in 2002, the RFCS was set up on 1st February 2003. The budget of the Fund is generated by the yearly interests produced by these assets. Typically these amount to about €60 Million/year of which 27.2% and 72.8% are respectively earmarked for coal and steel. An overview can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/research/industrial_technologies/rfcs_en.html

CCS Initiatives   

The European Technology Platform for Zero Emission Fossil Fuel Power Plants (ZEP) was established in 2005. It consists of stakeholders united in their support for CCS, and aims to enable the commercial implementation of CCS by 2020. http://www.zeroemissionsplatform.eu/

The European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) is an alliance of leading organizations in the field of energy research. The EERA Joint Programmes constitute strategic, permanent collaborations between major research organisations and institutes forming a virtual centre of excellence. In response to the EU’s SET-PLAN, the Joint Programmes implement the need for better coordination among Member States, maximising synergies and identifying priorities for future funding. The Joint Programme on CCS was launched in 2010 (http://www.eera-set.eu/index.php?index=27).

Links to CCS-related Information of the European Commission   

Within the European Commission, CCUS related activities are addressed by 4 Directorates-General (DG). The regulatory aspects (Geological Storage Directive, Emission Trading Scheme) are managed by DG CLIMA. DG ENER deals with CCS policy (support to CCS demonstration, Energy Roadmap 2050). DG RTD focuses on research support through the Framework Programmes, and international cooperation. DR JRC (the Joint Research Centre) provides in-house scientific and technical expertise to support CCS related Commission policies.

SETIS is the central information system for the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan), a policy initiative of the European Union aiming to accelerate the development of low-carbon energy technologies, including CCS. Managed by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), SETIS works in close collaboration with the European Technology Platforms, European Energy Research Alliance and European Industrial Initiatives. (http://setis.ec.europa.eu/technologies/carbon-capture-and-storage).