Questions and Answers on the on the Communication Demonstrating Carbon Capture and Geological Storage (CCS)
in emerging economies and developing countries: financing the EU-China Near Zero Emissions Coal Plant project
1) What is the aim of the Communication?
The Communication sets out concrete plans for action by the EU and Chinato co-finance a carbon capture and storage (CSS) demonstration plant in China. This fulfils an agreement made by the EU and China in 2005.
With regard to the on-going negotiations for an ambitious global climate change agreement for the period post-2012, the EU-China cooperation on CCS could serve as an example for concrete cooperation on financing and technology between developed and developing countries.
Such cooperation can contribute to the commitment made by developed countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to promote, facilitate and finance the transfer of, or access to, environmentally sound technologies and know-how to developing countries.
2) What is carbon capture and storage?
Carbon capture and storage is a suite of technological processes which involve capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the gases discarded by industryand transporting and injecting it into geological formations.
The major application for CCS is to reduce CO2 emissions from power generation from fossil fuels, principally coal and gas, but CCS can also be applied to CO2-intensive industries such as cement, refineries, iron and steel, petrochemicals, oil and gas processing and others. After capture, the CO2 is transported to a suitable geological formation where it is injected, with the aim of isolating it from the atmosphere for the long term.
There are storage options other than geological storage such as storage in the water column and mineral storage. Storage in the water column is considered to present a high environmental risk and the Commission's proposed directive on CO2 geological storage bans it within the Union. Mineral storage is currently the subject of research. Developments will be kept under review.
3) Why the need for CCS?
While energy efficiency and renewables are in the long term the most sustainable solutions both for security of supply and climate, it would be difficult and constly to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050 (which we need to do in order to limit global temperature increase to under 2ºC)without CCS.
Timing is crucial. About a third of existing coal fired power capacity in Europe will be replaced within the next 10 years. Internationally, China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico's energy consumption will lead a major global demand increase, which is likely to be met in large part from fossil fuels. The capacity to deal with these very substantial potential emissions must urgently be developed.
The precise contribution of this technology to global GHG reduction will depend on the uptake of CCS, but estimations are in the order more than 10%by 2030.
4) Is CCS technically mature?
The separate elements of capture, transport and storage of carbon dioxide have all been demonstrated, but integrating them into a complete CCS process and bringing costs down remain a challenge.
Several projects conducting initial research to explore options for demonstrating carbon capture and storage (CCS) for coal-fired power generation in China, namely the European Commission co-funded research projects COACH and STRACO2 and the UK funded Near Zero Emissions Coal (NZEC) Assessment Project are due to conclude in autumn 2009.
EU leaders have committed to the establishment of a network of up to 12 CCS demonstration plants in the EU by 2015, to maximise the range of technology and storage options demonstrated and knowledge sharing. The European Council and Parliament have agreed to a Directive setting out an enabling legal framework for CCS to enable the safe operation of CCS in Europe and to incentivise CCS demonstration i.e. through the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) (CO2 safely stored will not count as emitted) and through EU ETS New Entrants Reserve (providing funding which can be used to co-finance CCS demonstration plants) as well as revised State Aid rules. The European Economic Recovery Plan has allocated €1050 million to CCS demonstration projects inside the EU. Several EU companies have announced demonstration plants to be completed in the EU over the next 5-10 years.
The biggest CO2 storage projects that European companies are involved in are the Sleipner project in the North Sea (Statoil) and the In Salah project in Algeria (Statoil, BP and Sonatrach). Both projects involve stripping CO2 from natural gas – a process which is already carried out before the gas can be sold – and storing it in underground geological formations. Other demonstration projects underway are the Vattenfall project at Schwarze Pumpe in Germany and the Total CCS project in the Lacq basin in France.
5) Is it China committed to limitingits emissions with CCS ?
China is engaging strongly in clean coal technologies (CCT). In June 2007, China adopted a National Climate Change Programme (CNCCP), which specifically mentions the "the development and dissemination of advanced and suitable technologies" including "carbon dioxide capture, utilization, and storage technologies". China plans to publish CCS technology guidelines in the course of 2009. Furthermore, a group of seven state-owned energy sector enterprises has established Greengen, which has the objective to build an Integrated Gasification in Combined Cycle (IGCC) coal power plant, which should subsequently be complemented by CCS.
6) Why there is an urgent need to develop a demonstration project in China?
Due to abundant resources, coal is China's predominant energy source, contributing around 70% to the energy mix. It can be expected that coal will remain the primary energy source in the medium term – in 2007 alone, China built the equivalent of one 500MW coal-fired power plant every two and a half days. This represents around 4 megatons of CO2 a week increase in Chinese emissions from coal-fired power generation alone.
The rationale for co-financing this CCS demonstration plant in China is to win time by accelerating the development of the technology. Experience in China shows that costs will go down once the technology is deployed at broad scale.
The development and deployment of CCS in China can play a vital role in helping achieve global sustainable development but would be significantly delayed without immediate assistance from developed countries. The EU's commitment, coupled with technological and financial assistance, is a unique offer which can help to maximise the potential for CCS in emerging economies.
The failure of the market to reflect the real cost to society (i.a. via a CO2 price) of the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity means that CCS is not economically viable in the demonstration phase. EU public financing can help overcome some of the barriers outlined above and lever private financing, which would not otherwise be available for large scale CCS demonstration projects.
7) How much will the demonstration plant in Chinacost?
The cost of a CCS demonstration plant involves partly capital investment on equipment to capture, transport and store CO2, and partly the cost of operating this equipment to store the CO2 – in particularfor energy required to capture, transport and inject the CO2. At current technology prices, The additional capital and operational cost over a lifetime of 25 years for this first-of-a- kind 400 MW demonstration plant in China is estimated at around €730 million for an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plant (€125m for capital cost and €340m for operational costs, €265m for transport and storage costs, approximately) and around €980 million for a pulverised coal plant (€235m for capital cost and €445m for operational costs, €300 for transport and storage costs, approximately).
Within the period of operation of the CCS plant, a strengthening of the global carbon market and the emergence of a domestic carbon price in all major economies can be expected. Therefore, a carbon price of €10/tCO2 avoided is assumed in 2015, which gradually increases to €20. Taking account of such a carbon price, and without pre-judging the technology choice, the financing gap is estimated at roughly €300 million for an IGCC plant and at €550 for a pulverised coal plant .
8) How can the necessary resources be made available?
The EU may contribute through public funding as well as the use of carbon crediting mechanisms or other instrument such as Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM, which is a project-based approach offsetting developed country emissions through clean development projects in developing countries).
Another option is the introduction of sector-wide company-level emissions trading in sectors where the capacity exists to monitor emissions and ensure compliance particularly for energy-intensive sectors such as power generation, aluminium, iron, steel, cement, refineries and pulp and paper, most of which are exposed to international competition. Such schemes would be either global or national; if national, schemes in developing countries should be linked with schemes in developed countries, with targets for each sector covered being gradually strengthened until they were similar to those set in developed countries. This would also limit the transfer of high-emission installations from countries where they are subject to reduction commitments to countries where they are not.
So far the European Commission has earmarked €60m for cooperation on clean coal technologies and carbon capture and storage with emerging economies. A small proportion of this funding (about €3m in 2009) will be used to build capacity for CCS and other clean coal technologies in other emerging economies, while. €7m, will be used for the feasibility phase of the EU-China project. Provided there is continued political support from China and satisfactory progress with the NZEC project, additional financial resources of up to €50m could be made availablefor the design and construction of the demonstration plant. In addition, EU and EEAMemberStates are invited to co-finance this project and finally, co-financing from China will be important.
The participation beyond government funding can be of two types: Concessional loans from International Financial Institutions or public banks, such as the EIB and private investment. Private sector involvement falls into two categories: active equity investors (operators, contractors, equipment suppliers) and passive equity investors (investment funds, institutional investors). The prospect of revenues from the carbon market would attract private investors.Depending on the storage site chosen, it may be possible to source an additional revenue stream enhanced oil recovery (EOR), which is already commercially viable. EOR refers to a variety of processes to increase the amount of oil removed from a reservoir, typically by injecting a liquid or gas (eg nitrogen, carbon dioxide).
9) How should these various sources of funding be coordinated?
In order to bring together sufficient public and private funds and deploy them effectively i( is envisaged to develop a public-private partnership (PPP), probably in the form of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV).
SPVs are highly flexible investment vehicles which can be designed for a one-off project and have a relatively light legal and managerial structure, which means that they can be established quickly and with minimal overheads. The rules governing the SPV are set down in advance and carefully circumscribe their activities. This mechanism allows the limitation of financial risk for the investor. Hence the SPV model offers several advantages and can be tailored to suit the needs of the CCS demonstration project.
An advantage of this structure would be that the public donors can set out the investment policies to ensure full coherence with public policy objectives. Through a specified investment policy this structure would offer an investment platform which can combine public and private funding.
The initiative has to be designed to inform and garner support from China, EU and EEAMemberStates, International Financial Institutions and private companies to contribute to this activity. Private investment in CCS is only attractive if there are prospects for a revenue stream, eg from the carbon market and/or enhanced oil recovery.
10) Why should European public funds and not Chinese own resources be used to subsidise the development of the already booming power sector in China?
In countries with abundant coal reserves, security of supply concerns dictate that coal will continue to be used to generate electricity, particularly in China. Carbon Capture and Geological Storage (CCS) are thought to be key technologies enabling the continued use of coal during a transitional period on the path to a low-carbon future. It is therefore in the interests of Europe that we develop a means of supporting the demonstration of CCS in coal-dependent emerging economies in order to exploit the economies of scale and ensure that, once demonstration is completed, deployment happens rapidly and at scale.
This was in the motivation behind the 2005 EU-China Summit Declaration, which has as one of its aims "To develop and demonstrate, in China and the EU, advanced, near-zero emissions coal ("NZEC") technology through carbon capture and storage"
Chinese investment will be essential to increase China's buy-in to the project and the development of the technology. This will ensure a greater Chinese ownership, familiarity with the technology and an increased likelihood of further deployment. Nevertheless to speed up demonstration and subsequent commercial deployment on the CSS technology the European contribution is necessary, even if will be probably limited to co-finance the incremental costs of CCS and reduce the risk for the private sector to be involved in the project.
11) When will widespread deployment happen?
Uptake of CCS will depend on the price of the technology compared to alternatives,and on the carbon price.If the CCScost per ton of CO2 avoided is lower than the carbon price, then CCS will begin to be deployed.
Putting a price on carbon through the establishment of domestic cap-and-trade systems for greenhouse gas emission allowances is the economically most efficient way of ensuring that private and public sector investments are consistent with the achievement of the global mitigation objectives.
The aim of demonstration is to learn from practical integration of the process components on a commercial scale. With demonstration projects in place, the price of the technology should decrease substantially over the next ten years.
According to the Commission's projections the uptake of CCS on a commercial scale is likely to begin some time around 2020 and increase substantially after that.
12) How will CCS be treated under theCDM?
Currently, CCS is not eligible for CDM credits but it might be eligible under a post-2012 carbon financing scheme, e.g. through a sectoral crediting mechanism (ie a mechanism to credit emissions reductions at the sector level) or through a specific CDM scheme for CCS demonstration plants.
13) What are the next steps?
The Communication is addressed to the EU's legislative institutions (the Council and European Parliament) for their consideration. The European Council will discuss the Communication at its meeting on 25 June 2009.
Working closely with European and Chinese stakeholders, the Commission proposes to determine with international financial institutions the setting up of an appropriate financial structure, to support the construction and operation phase of the project
The Commission invites EU Member States, interested EEAStates and China to pledge financial and political support to this novel initiative and also invites the European Parliament to provide its political support. Considering that this is a novel approach, the European Commission Services will continue to develop the detailed implementing arrangement together with entities that express a formal interest in co-financing this initiative.
For more information:
Commission website on carbon capture and storage:
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage:
European Council Conclusions, March 2007
2005 Summit Declaration:" During the meeting, a Joint Declaration on Climate Change between China and the EU was issued, which confirmed the establishment of a China-EU partnership on climate change. The two sides were determined to tackle the serious challenges of climate change through practical and results-oriented cooperation. This partnership will fully complement the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. It will strengthen cooperation and dialogue on climate change including clean energy, and will promote sustainable development. It will include cooperation on the development, deployment and transfer of low carbon technology, including advanced near-zero-emissions coal technology through carbon capture and storage. " (See: