The EU promotes research and innovation for systems for capturing and storing CO2 from the atmosphere, which is responsible for the greenhouse effect and therefore for the rise in temperatures.
Although the least expensive system is to preserve the natural environment, given that CO2 is the bread for the plant kingdom, systems for carbon capture and storage (CCS) have been sought for years, a set of technologies aimed at capturing , transport and store the CO2 emitted by power plants and industrial plants.
The goal of CCS is to prevent CO2 from reaching the atmosphere by storing it in suitable underground geological formations. As a significant amount of power generation and industry will continue to rely on fossil fuels well into the future, the use of CCS is important to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Despite EU regulations and co-financing opportunities provided through the European Energy Recovery Program and NER300, carbon capture and storage have failed to develop at the expected pace, until now.
In 2013, the European Commission reviewed the progress of CCS and found that more than 20 small-scale CCS demonstration projects are operational globally but none in Europe and that at current low carbon prices, companies do not have a economic interest in investing in CCS.
Furthermore a first generation CCS power plant is 60% to 100% more expensive than a conventional power plant. However, the Commission expects the cost of CCS to decrease over the long term as a result of R&D and the creation of economies of scale.
Nevertheless, the EU is financing research for capturing carbon dioxide and to assess the future of various techniques.
Carbon stockage: waiting for carbon capture
There is a EU Directive on the geological storage of CO2 (so-called "CCS Directive"), that establishes a legal framework for the environmentally safe geological storage of CO2 to contribute to the fight against climate change.
It covers all CO2 storage in geological formations in the EU and the entire lifetime of storage sites. It also contains provisions on the capture and transport components of CCS, though these activities are covered mainly by existing EU environmental legislation, such as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive or the Industrial Emissions Directive, in conjunction with amendments introduced by the CCS Directive.