Nearly 60 carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects are currently planned across Europe, mainly around the North Sea, offering an abatement potential of more than 80 million tonnes of CO2 per year, reports environmental organisation the Clean Air Task Force (CATF) in a new study.

By 2030, however, currently announced projects could face a €10bn revenue gap and Europe risks a 50% deficit in developed storage capacity, the CATF calculates.

Its report outlines necessary steps to create a CCS strategy to meet European climate ambitions. A coordinated policy framework is imperative given the rising number of planned CCS projects across Europe, stresses the organisation.

The smoking pipes of a thermal power plant. (Photo by Ugis Riba, via Shutterstock)

“After a bit of a dip a decade ago, especially in Europe, we are really seeing CCS back on the agenda,” said Toby Lockwood, co-author of the report and CATF carbon capture technology and markets manager, at the launch event on 2 May.

“The file [CCUS] is alive again,” concurred European Commission official Chris Bolesta.

The report highlights the criticality of CCS, stating that it “is likely to be of profound utility to society; not [to sustain] fossil fuel production, or as a competitor with renewable energy sources, but as a complement to them: to provide the clean steel, cement, and other materials needed for their manufacture, the clean power to back them up, and the alternative sources of hydrogen which can prioritise renewable energy for other uses”.

The report follows the final instalment of the IPCC’s sixth assessment report, which highlights carbon removal as a necessary tool to limit warming to 1.5°C.

While just two of the 26 full-scale CCS projects worldwide are in Europe – namely in Norway – those projects have demonstrated the technical feasibility of CCS for a range of applications and showcased its decarbonising potential, the CATF notes.

To scale up the development of such projects, the report recommends “climate and innovation policies that allow the technology to be implemented at the pace required to reach net zero”.

The European Commission intends to publish an updated vision for the role and potential of CCUS in 2023.