Catalysing North Sea action

SCCS Recommendations and Conference Report 2014

The creation of a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) industry is imperative if we are to achieve global carbon targets and avert the worst impacts of climate change. It is also achievable if we start delivering the projects that will, from CO₂ source to storage site, build confidence and prove the technology. The SCCS Annual Conference 2014, held in Edinburgh on 29 October, brought together European and international experts from government, industry and academia to discuss the North Sea region and its unique set of assets as an enabler of CCS for Europe. This report delivers key findings from three focus group discussions and sets out a ten-point plan for European policymakers as they consider climate and energy objectives to 2030.

The report highlights the need for robust business models for CO₂ transport and storage in the North Sea basin as well as targeted funding support to develop regional carbon capture "clusters" of emitters. It also calls for CCS to be fully recognised financially as a high-value climate change technology "unique in enabling the decarbonisation of thermal power generation and essential industrial processes".

Report's key findings:

  • CCS needs to be valued by EU and Member State policy makers as a "high-leverage" climate change mitigation technology; it is unique in enabling the decarbonisation of thermal power generation and essential industrial/manufacturing processes.
  • Effective business models are needed to support the development of CO₂ transport and storage, in parallel with policy mechanisms that aim to encourage CO₂ capture from large emitters. The minimum capture target should be 220 million tonnes of CO₂ per year by 2030, with low-carbon CCS electricity tariffs.
  • For CCS to deliver at least cost it needs to be undertaken at large scale, with clusters of carbon emitters sharing CO₂ transport and CO₂ storage infrastructure.
  • CCS "insurance" against carbon pricing is essential to the survival of multiple industrial sectors across the EU. CCS secures industrial output and millions of jobs as well as enhancing energy security and providing back-up to intermittent renewable energy.
  • CO₂-Enhanced Oil Recovery (CO₂-EOR) offers a profitable route for the UK and Norway to diversify offshore employment and solve infrastructure blockages for CCS. It also incentivises CO₂ capture from diverse sources. If regulated properly, the carbon storage benefits of CO₂-EOR easily outweigh perceived negatives of extra carbon production.

Ten-point plan for EU and Member State policy makers:

  • Rapidly deliver a renewed New Entrants Reserve financing instrument (NER400) of the EU’s Emissions Trading System to support new industrial and power generation CCS projects
  • Support the creation of CO₂ transport and storage infrastructure through the EU’s Projects of Common Interest, including pipeline construction and CO₂ shipping
  • Create capture-to-storage CCS cluster plans for Europe’s industrial regions
  • Provide specific funding, through the EU or Member States, to construct regional carbon capture clusters
  • Reward CO₂ transport and storage with clear pricing mechanisms
  • Undertake analyses to identify tariff incentive mechanisms for CCS
  • Develop a CO₂-Enhanced Oil Recovery plan for the North Sea
  • Encourage the research community to take lead on defining future research and development (R&D) needs for cost reduction with strategic industry input
  • Ensure R&D priorities are informed by industry needs, with feedback from demonstration projects being developed worldwide
  • Support existing CCS networks and bodies and their work to exchange information between industry and academia; government and regulators; and financiers and insurers