CCS takes center stage at the EU-Norway Energy Conference

6th February 2019

On February 5, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete and Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Kjell Børge Freiberg hosted the 4th EU-Norway Energy Conference in Brussels.

On the agenda, the role of natural gas in Europe’s energy transition and the decarbonisation of industry. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) was high on the agenda during the conference with a side-event entirely dedicated to the role of the technology in achieving emission reduction targets and the presentation of several European CCS projects including the Acorn, Northern Lights and Teesside.

Speaking at the event, Commissioner Cañete reminded the audience that CCS is part of the seven building blocks included in the Commission’s vision for the EU long-term strategy. This document sets the direction of travel for Europe’s transition to a climate neutral economy.  Commissioner Cañete added that CCS deployment will be supported by the ETS Innovation Fund and mature project applications are expected during the first call for proposals in 2020. During his address, the Commissioner also noted that the expertise of the oil and gas industry will be key to advancing CCS and make them part of the solution to the challenge of climate change.

At the conference, Commissioner Cañete recognized that natural gas will be an important part of the Europe's energy mix in years to come.  This was reflected throughout the event reaffirming the important role that CCS can play in providing a low-carbon energy source as well as enabling a hydrogen economy.  The event also reflected on the importance to think beyond electricity and take an energy system approach when discussing the delivery of climate targets.

The European dimension of the full-scale CCS project in Norway was strongly emphasized. In his remarks at the conference, Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Kjell Børge Freiberg said: “The project is European by nature. It includes large European companies like Heidelberg Cement, Fortum, Shell, Total and Equinor. Together they will establish a fundament for a common European CO2 infrastructure.” The Northern Lights project aims to provide an open source CO2 transport and storage service for Europe.

At the event, Minister Freiberg stressed the importance of collaboration between Europe and Norway for the advancement of CCS, which will ultimately make the CCS full-chain project a reality.  The Minister called on the European Union to financially support the deployment of the full-scale CCS project in Norway.  “The main aim of the project is not cutting Norwegian emissions, but to get a technological leap for CCS,” he said. “This is why we would like to see co-funding. It would also help to see other European CCS projects make use of our planned CCS infrastructure. This is of mutual benefit.”

Speaking in the afternoon session dedicated to CCS, ZEP Chairman Graeme Sweeney stressed that there is a need to focus on the delivery of CCS and push forward an infrastructure-led approach by regions. He also added that while waiting for infrastructure, it is important to legitimise existing CCS projects.

Joining the discussion on CCS, ENVI Committee Chair Adina-Ioana Vălean reflected on the Europe’s track record on CCS.  She noted that in the last decade there was been CCS euphoria and CCS blues in Europe and that this should not be seen as a lost decade. She added that the community can learn from its past and make CCS happen.

At the conference, it was also announced that the European Commission will co-host with Norwegian government a high-level CCS Summit in Oslo in September.

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