A total of 10 to 12 demonstration projects, using a variety of technologies, will have to be set up by 2015 to "de-risk" carbon capture and storage (CCS) and make it commercially available by 2020, argues a report from the European Technology Platform for Zero Emission Fossil Fuel Power Plants (ZEP).
ZEP identified what requires testing if CCS is to be commercialised, setting out "the optimal portfolio of demonstration projects" with Europe-wide coverage of the whole range of CCS technologies and fuel sources, geographies and geologies. It concluded that eight of the projects currently announced should meet most of the criteria, but a further two to four will be needed to solve the remaining unknowns.
ZEP also concluded that the incentive mechanism needed to guarantee that the plants are constructed and operational by 2015 is still missing. It said an additional €7–€12 billion would be needed to cover the extra cost of CCS installations and lower plant efficiency.
The report conveys the industry's willingness to take on a large proportion of the costs and risks, arguing that industry's contribution should be determined through "a rigorous tender process". ZEP argues, however, that the risks are "too high to be fully justifiable to shareholders," calling for both national and European funding mechanisms to be employed too.
"The work is unprecedented in its scope," said Dr Graeme Sweeney, chairman of ZEP and executive vice president for future fuels & CO2 at Shell, at the launch of the proposal. Dr Sweeney added that the programme would enable commercial risks to be reduced and contribute to raising public knowledge, which he said was "crucial" as CCS technology "won't go forward" without public acceptance.
Claims that a single company or country can bear the risk on its own "don't hold water," said Dr Sweeney, identifying public-private partnerships as the only reasonable option.
The ZEP proposal would satisfy the European Council's request to have up to 12 large-scale CCS demonstration plants up and running by 2015 and reflects the selection criteria for such a programme's projects.
Dr Sweeney told EurActiv that ZEP had been in regular dialogue with the EU institutions, working closely with MEP Chris Davies on his proposal for a legal framework for CCS. ZEP hopes that its programme will feature as a European Industrial Initiative within the EU Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan). "We are confident that there is sufficient momentum for this," Dr Sweeney said.
Indeed, Andris Piebalgs, the EU's energy commissioner, welcomed the proposal, hailing ZEP's efforts for helping the Commission to move forward on an industrial programme. He asked for the platform's continued support.