CEMBUREAU calls for "thorough debate" on CCUS

CEMBUREAU calls for "thorough debate" on CCUS
24 November 2022

Although there has never been a more exciting time for carbon capture, EU policies need to provide a predicable regulatory framework and allow for a strong business case, according to Koen Coppenholle, CEO of CEMBUREAU.

Recent months have seen significant headway in carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) in the EU, with a large number of pilot and demonstration projects launched, some of which are expected to be operational by 2024. Politically, carbon capture is also gathering momentum with support from the Commissioner for Energy at the European Commission, Kadri Simson, and European Commission Executive Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, at a recent CEMBUREAU event, highlighting the crucial role technology will play.

Yet, despite this renewed momentum, there is a high degree of uncertainty surrounding the use of CO2 from industrial sources. This uncertainty was ignited by the Energy Commission’s ‘Communication on Sustainable Carbon Cycles’ (December 2021) which states that “fossil carbon should be replaced by more sustainable streams of recycled carbon from waste, sustainable biomass and directly from the atmosphere”. However, no timeline has been put on the replacement of ‘fossil carbon’. 

The recent Commission draft Delegated Act on the greenhouse gas saving criteria for recycled carbon fuels does introduce such timeline, at least for the production of synthetic fuels. According to this proposal, CO2 from industrial sources can no longer be used after 2035 in the production of synthetic fuels.

The draft Delegated Act has been met with consternation within the EU cement industry. There are currently major CO2 utilisation projects under development – some of which are actually supported by the EU’s own ETS Innovation Fund – in the sector to develop synthetic fuels. These involve highly significant capex and opex, and are planned on a return on investments of several decades.

These CO2 utilisation projects are actually vital for the decarbonisation of the sector, as many of the 200 cement kilns on the European territory are landlocked with no easily available CO2 storage-site within reach. Faced with unavoidable CO2 emissions, it is crucial that these plants have the possibility to re-use the CO2 they capture into fuels and products.

“We do take the point made by the European Commission that synthetic fuels using industrial CO2 are not a fully “net zero solution”, to the extent that the captured CO2 is re-emitted into the atmosphere when the fuel is used by the airplane, ship or truck. However, even if not a carbon neutral solution, synthetic fuels (and the re-utilisation of CO2 in general) make a decisive contribution to climate mitigation in the short to medium term, by considerably reducing the amount of CO2 emissions and reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Faced with a climate emergency and a shortage of alternative CO2 sources in the short to medium term, why would the EU proceed with legislation that endangers the business case for a key decarbonisation avenue for the cement and transport sector altogether?” asks CEMBUREAU.

The publication of the draft Delegated Act highlights the need for a thorough debate on the future of CO2 use from industrial sources. "More than ever, we need an open discussion on carbon use from industrial sources, covering both the continued need for carbon as feedstock for industrial production, and the level at which these needs can be met by the different sources of CO2," says CEMBUREAU.

“It is our strong conviction that introducing a time-limit before such in-depth discussion and proper analysis takes place, is detrimental not only for running projects but also for the long-term robustness of the EU’s CO2 mitigation strategy,” it adds.

Published under Cement News

Tagged Under: Cembureau Europe CCUS