The European Commission has announced the release of its strategy to significantly increase industrial capacity for carbon capture, storage and utilization across the EU over the coming years. This will form a key part of its plan to achieve its climate goals, including reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
The new strategy was launched on Tuesday alongside the Commission’s recommendation to set a 2040 target for the EU to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2040, on its way to carbon neutrality by 2050. Although the Commission noted that its climate ambitions are primarily focused In terms of absolute emissions reductions, achieving the targets will require a major increase in the capacity to capture, store and use CO2, especially to tackle emissions from difficult-to-use decarbonizing industrial processes and sectors such as transport and agriculture.
In concrete terms, the Commission has proposed the development of at least 50 million tonnes of CO2 storage capacity per year by 2030, with the new strategy communication indicating that this will need to be massively scaled up to 280 million tonnes per year by 2040, and again to 450 million tonnes per year. tons by 2050.
Industrial carbon management involves capturing carbon from fossil fuel combustion, industrial processes, biogenic emissions or directly from the air. The Commission’s strategy focuses on the development of these technologies, as well as the regulatory and investment framework to support them.
The new strategy focuses on three key technology pathways, including CO2 capture for storage (CCS), CO2 capture for use (CCU) as a replacement for fossil carbon in synthetic products, chemicals or fuels, and the removal of biogenic or atmospheric CO2 from the atmosphere for permanent storage.
The Communication also emphasizes the need to establish CO2 transport infrastructure as a key enabler for each of these technologies, with an estimated 7,300 km of infrastructure and over €12 billion in investments needed by 2030, rising to 19,000 km and 16 billion euros in 2040.
The Commission’s strategy also foresees three key phases of industrial carbon management over the coming decades, starting with the deployment of at least 50 million tonnes per year of storage capacity by 2030 in addition to associated pipeline, ship, rail and road infrastructure , achieving economic viability for most regional carbon value chains. , where CO2 becomes a tradable commodity for storage or use within the EU internal market and up to a third of captured CO2 is utilized by 2040, and in the final phase after 2040, industrial carbon management becomes an integral part of the economic system of the EU, and carbon removed from the atmosphere becomes the main source for carbon-based industrial processes or transport fuels.
Additional aspects of the Commission’s strategy aimed at enabling investments and policies to support the development of CCS, CCU and carbon removal capacity include plans to develop a platform to match CO2 suppliers with storage operators, including the creation of an “investment atlas of potential CO2 storage sites,” the development of policies to adopt the use of carbon as an industrial resource, and to support mechanisms for industrial carbon removal, including whether and how this should be taken into account in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).
Maroš Šefčovič, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, said:
“European industry is working hard to reduce its emissions, but there are some sectors where processes are particularly difficult to adapt and changes are expensive to implement. For this reason, we must stimulate innovation in carbon capture, transport and storage technologies to make them an effective climate solution. Accelerating its deployment would help us achieve our climate ambitions while increasing the competitiveness of our industry, especially in times of significant geopolitical shifts. In this context, we are also intensifying our engagement with key industrial sectors, as well as with citizens, to ensure that the transition takes place in a socially fair way.”