Last week I was fortunate enough to be able to attend CO2GeoNet's Forum, this year with the encouraging focus of 'Driving CCS towards Implementation'. CO2GeoNet is a European Network body that currently comprises 26 research institutes from 19 European countries, and brings together over 300 researchers with the multidisciplinary expertise needed to address all aspects of CO2 storage.
The two day conference began by looking at the role of CCS in national mitigation strategies. A keynote by Niels Berghout from the IEA set the tone of the day, showing the significant progress CCS has made in the last 20 years (especially given the ups and downs that have been experienced in policy and political support). It was emphasised that CCS must now go beyond 'clean coal' to meet the challenges governments face to meet the ambitious Paris Agreement targets. This includes reducing emissions from industrial processes alongside power related sources, a task which is unlikely to be achievable without CCS.
A regular discussion throughout the forum was that to implement CCS, there needs to be an incentive and the motivation of avoiding climate change alone is currently insufficient without more economic benefits. IPCC reports have indicated the wide-spread commercial scale deployment of CCS is required as soon as possible in order to avoid the '2°C Scenario'. Currently this is not happening as quickly as it needs to with industry and government both pointing the finger at who is meant to be the driving force in implementing CCS commercially.
The second day focused on showcasing results from EU projects and the lessons learnt from international CCS projects. Global perspectives included updates from Shell (Quest), CO2CRC (Otway), RITE and the Kansas Geological Survey. The European project updates included talks from Ketzin, UK GeoEnergy Test Bed and Sintef of the Rotterdam Nucleus. Gassnova ended the day with an update on the upcoming Norwegian CCS projects and specifically the Smeaheia site. It was great to hear about so many different CCS projects with 22 large-scale CCS projects now in operation or under construction globally and a combined CO2 capture capacity around 40 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa).
One of the main conclusions that emerged from the forum was that to reduce the counter party risk (which is currently increasing the price of projects) there is the need for regional co-ordinating bodies and a hub and cluster approach. In particular, shared transport systems were considered essential in driving CCS forward.
Numerous workshops were held after the forum with a personal highlight being "Bringing CCS to new regions" looking at how to bring CCS to developing countries. The panel discussion highlighted the particular importance of communication and the language used when promoting CCS. The potential CCS has for producing more jobs and enabling cleaner industry needs to be the focus of future discussions rather than stressing the importance of climate change, as short-term economics are likely to play an even more vital role than they currently do in Europe.
Overall the forum provided informative lively debate on how to drive CCS forward, and how the incentives would vary from country to country. Carbon capture technologies have been tested, safe CO2 storage has been proven and CCS is considered by many as essential for climate change mitigation. The passion for CCS from those attending was clear and we must hope that Europe's policy and regulations to support its implementation are to follow.