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A Christmas wish list for CCS in Europe

Dear Santa...

Many of you will have written or dictated 'Dear Santa' letters as young children, possibly encouraged to do so by parents who did not know what presents you might like at Christmas time. There was always the risk that you could well be disappointed when the actual day came, especially if you had been overly optimistic in your wish list. I have tried to keep this in mind when drafting my wish list for CCS in Europe. However, the list still contains more than its fair share of optimism!

When the Zero Emission Technology Platform (ZEP) was set up in 2006, we were looking for CCS to set off rather like the Train à Grande Vitesse. Unfortunately, it now appears to be moving more like a small coal-fired steam engine trying to pull far too many wagons and possibly grinding to a halt as it runs into a thick chemical fog (or smog).

My first wish is that a number of CCS demonstration projects are significantly advanced during 2013. This would be a complete switch of what has happened in 2012 when we could be forgiven for thinking that the European demo program had moved into reverse mode with a mixture of delays, postponements and cancellations.Unfortunately, it now seems unlikely that we will be able to look to the European Union's (EU) NER300 program to have the necessary impact, so it will have to be the governments of individual EU Member States and industry that will have to take the necessary initiatives.

I would like the ROAD project to take a positive final investment decision (FID) early in 2013. This would not only be a major boost for the Rotterdam Climate Initiative and all its associated projects, in particular the Green Hydrogen project, but also for CCS throughout Europe. Probably the highest profile, and certainly most advanced, CCS project in Europe did not apply for NER300 funding. I wonder if the ROAD partners in the project now regret that decision, given that as little as 30 per cent of the funding that a successful project could receive from the European pot would be enough to see the project over the FID line. Unfortunately, it may be overly-optimistic, even for a Christmas wish, to hope that the European Commission (EC) might find a way to redirect some CCS funds in the direction of the ROAD project. If not, I wish somebody else would put up some money.

One nation that would appear to have sufficient funds to support a couple of major CCS demo projects is the UK. Unfortunately, the amount of money available was still not enough to give the EC the necessary guarantees in support of the Don Valley projectI would like the UK Government to make sure that at least one of the demo projects in their competition will be much closer to taking a positive FID by the end of 2013, and hopefully, two. Will that be possible without European funding? If not, I wish the UK and the EC might surprise us all and negotiate a way forward for the benefit of CCS. After all, it is Christmas!

I have always been a great fan of the Belchatow project. It has so many positive attributes that it would be my number one demonstration project. But, unfortunately, my enthusiasm has never appeared to be shared by the Polish Government. I really wish that I am wrong and that 2013 will see the necessary changes to Polish legislation that by the end of the year Belchatow will be pushing ROAD as a major contender for the first project to store CO2.

Germany is by far the greatest emitter of CO2 in Europe, so I wish that during 2013 the whole country will change its views on CO2 and realise that it is much safer and better for both it and its environment if the gas is trapped deep underground rather than released directly into our atmosphere and the air that we breathe.

Of course there are other wishes, probably at least one for each demonstration project, but the above would be an excellent start on which we could build and get our train moving again.

Finally, I want to wish all those involved in trying to advance CCS, in particular all those trying to progress its demonstration in Europe and elsewhere in the world, a very Merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous and, above all, successful 2013. 

P.S. Santa, you will know of course, that continuing to emit large volumes of CO2 will result in accelerating climate change. In turn, this will cause melting of the icecaps and rising sea levels. Unless you grant me the above wishes, you will soon need to put your reindeer out to pasture, dismantle your sleigh, and invest in a rowing boat and a pair of oars.

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