by Graeme Sweeney*
The large-scale deployment of cross-border CO2 transport and storage infrastructure is crucial for the EU to reach its 2050 climate target. To this end, all modes of CO2 transport – pipeline, ship, barge, truck, train – and CO2 storage should be included in the revised TEN-E regulation, writes Dr Graeme Sweeney.
To reach climate-neutrality by 2050, it will be necessary to make strategic investment decisions that will significantly transform energy-intensive industries. This will include sectors such as cement, lime, steel and chemicals, which are at the core of Europe’s economy, producing and manufacturing products central to how we live.
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) will be critical in the industrial transition towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. For these sectors, pathways including CCS represent the lowest cost route to decarbonisation whilst maintaining industrial activity and preserving and creating jobs.
The revision of the Trans-European Energy Infrastructure (TEN-E) Regulation ensures that the EU’s energy infrastructure policy is consistent and aligned to reach climate neutrality by 2050, as outlined in the European Climate Law.
Since the Commission presented its proposal for a revised TEN-E regulation in December 2020, the Council adopted a general approach in June, while the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee is expected to vote on their final report on 27 September, for a later vote in the Parliament’s Plenary.
Investing in shared, cross-border CO2 transport and storage infrastructure is the ultimate European project. It represents a strategic, instrumental policy to maintain Europe’s welfare and a future-proof society for a climate-neutral economy.
Deploying CO2 infrastructure would allow industrial emitters from all corners of Europe to connect to permanent geological storage, where CO2 would be safely stored without re-entering the atmosphere, thus mitigating climate change.
As the Commission has stated in the EU Taxonomy and reiterated in the revised EU ETS Directive – part of the Fit for 55 package – it is expected that the transport of CO2 will be operated by pipeline and ship.
For upcoming CCS projects that will rely on transporting CO2 by ship, recognising CO2 transport by ship in the TEN-E Regulation will be vital. Thus, this outcome should be reflected across all EU legislation.
As a vital aspect of CO2 infrastructure and CCS projects, CO2 storage should also be included in the revised TEN-E regulation. It plays a crucial role in delivering real climate change mitigation and therefore merits funding as part of CO2 infrastructure. Enabling secure access to storage sites increases the likelihood that more industrial CO2 emitters will invest in projects, thus reducing the costs of capture technologies.
With an ever-increasing number of market-ready CCS projects in Europe moving towards becoming operational within this decade, there is a strong need to support this progress. Additionally, the role of CCS as an essential enabler for a cost-efficient and just transition to net-zero must be considered.
It is crucial to secure political support for the five candidate Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) on cross-border CO2 infrastructure, which will become operational before 2025. A long-term policy framework providing a degree of predictability for investments should be a priority for European policymakers.
CO2 infrastructure can also play an instrumental role in facilitating a clean hydrogen economy, delivering early, large-scale volumes of low-carbon hydrogen produced from reformed natural gas with CCS.
CO2 infrastructure, CCS, and hydrogen should be at the core of a genuinely integrated, climate-neutral energy system. Low-carbon hydrogen can enable many energy-intensive industries to decarbonise, especially those relying on high-temperature operations, such as steel production. Initially, an EU hydrogen economy will depend on large volumes of low-carbon hydrogen, requiring the development of cross-border CO2 infrastructure.
Based on the Commission’s proposed TEN-E regulation in December 2020, the Parliament and the Council are now finalising their positions.
Ahead of the ITRE Committee vote regarding the TEN-E regulation, it is crucial to consider the vital role of CO2 transport and storage infrastructure for the EU to reach its 2030 and 2050 targets. This includes helping to drive the decarbonisation of energy-intensive and difficult-to-decarbonise industries in Europe – and for upcoming CCS projects in Europe.
It is imperative that all modalities of CO2 transport and CO2 storage are included in the revised regulation.
*Chairman of the Zero Emissions Platform (ZEP) – A European Technology and Innovation Platform under the European Commission’s SET-Plan and technical adviser to the EU on deploying Carbon Capture and Storage and Carbon Capture and Utilisation
**first published in: www.euractiv.com