Insights and Commentaries

Insights and Commentaries

Minister Henk Kamp addresses the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum

15th November 2015

Topic(s): Carbon capture, law and regulation, Policy, Public engagement, use and storage (CCUS)

From November 2-4 the Institute's General Manager - Europe, Middle East & Africa, Andrew Purvis, attended the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The following Insight is an excerpt of a speech delivered by Minister Henk Kamp, Minister for Economic Affairs, Netherlands.

Riyadh became the modern metropolis it is today thanks to successful oil and gas extraction and trade. The city is a symbol of the progress and economic growth that we owe to the use of fossil fuels. But... at the same time we realise that burning fossil fuels is damaging our climate and our wellbeing, and that of future generations. That's why the European heads of government have agreed to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 80 per cent of 1990 levels by the year 2050. That way we can contribute to the goal of limiting the global temperature increase to two degrees Celsius. At the Paris climate summit in four weeks' time, we expect countries from all around the world to convert their political commitment to this two-degree goal into a new legally binding international climate agreement. They will also discuss the efforts, investments and technological developments needed to make our economies sustainable.

So the timing and location of this meeting are ideal. Focusing on CO2 capture, transport and storage is not a luxury. CCS is a promising technology, especially for reducing greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. But it has not advanced enough yet to make a maximum contribution to limiting the effects of climate change. The challenge we face is to develop CCS in a way that will make using it an attractive, cost-effective option for the market and for society at large. I'd like to outline in what way the Netherlands is willing and able to contribute.

The Netherlands is ambitious: we aim to have a low-carbon energy system by 2050. Two years ago, the government, employers, unions, conservation and environmental organisations, and other parties created investment security by committing to several climate goals. Including this one. We’re focusing on saving energy and substantially increasing the share of renewable energy. But other measures are needed as well. CCS is an important instrument for us to achieve a low-carbon economy.

The Netherlands is in a good position to apply this technology. First of all, we have large-scale energy-intensive industry, including chemical plants, oil refineries, and steel and cement works. By applying CCS in those companies we can achieve vast emission reductions, which wouldn’t be possible simply by saving energy and using renewable energy. CCS can also benefit the Dutch power sector in its efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.

Our power plants and industrial areas are often located close together, generally near the ports and the coast. This means companies can share the infrastructure for transporting CO2. What’s more, the Netherlands has plenty of storage capacity in depleted oil and gas fields below the sea. So storage on land is not necessary for now.

Because the Netherlands is in such a good position to use CCS, we saw the opportunities it offers at an early stage. The first research and development initiatives in our country date back as far as 1988. Since then, we’ve gained a lot of knowledge, in several pilot projects and the major research programme CATO, which started in 2004. Our companies and researchers apply that knowledge around the world in various CCS projects. It makes us leaders in this field, a position we’re keen to build on.

The Dutch demonstration project ROAD allows researchers, businesses and government agencies to gain practical experience. The aim is to capture a megaton of CO2 each year from the flue gases of a coal-fired power plant and store it permanently in depleted gas fields under the North Sea. The knowledge and experience we gain with ROAD will hopefully help us to apply CCS on a larger scale in the future.

The port of Rotterdam would be an excellent location for a CO2 hub. There is enough room for storage under the North Sea and a pipeline is already in place to transport CO2 to an area with a lot of greenhouses, where it can be re-used in the horticultural sector. This makes Rotterdam an attractive partner. Not only for Dutch companies, but also for businesses in energy-intensive regions, like Antwerp and the Ruhr valley.

The Netherlands wants to stimulate international cooperation on CCS wherever possible. By pooling our efforts and knowledge, we can speed up development. That’s why the Netherlands is involved in the European research programme Accelerating CCS Technologies. And I’m pleased that the European Commission, Norway and Germany are contributing to the ROAD project.

I believe CCS can contribute significantly to an affordable and clean energy system. And I'm glad we agree on this because we are all responsible for developing this technology further. Our generation must put in the effort and make the investments needed to prevent today’s economic growth from damaging the prosperity and wellbeing of future generations. So let us all continue to invest in the promising field of CCS, in the interests of our climate and future economic growth.

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