**Check against delivery**

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the first high-level CO2 Capture Utilisation and Storage Forum, or simply the CCUS Forum.

The idea for an annual CCUS event was introduced last year, in our Communication on an EU Strategy for Energy System Integration. We wanted to design a stakeholder forum to discuss the opportunities offered by CCUS technologies for reaching climate neutrality by 2050, as well as the obstacles preventing their deployment. The Forum will also look at the options to foster CCUS projects, learn lessons from past and on-going projects and work on how success stories can be replicated elsewhere. 

Let’s be honest. We have learned the hard way about CCS demonstration. We had an ambition for 12 large-scale projects aiming at capturing and storing CO2 around Europe by 2015. We passed enabling legislation at EU level and we even set aside significant resources initially for seven such installations from the 2009 European Economic Recovery Plan. In addition, a dedicated programme, the NER300, was created and fed with revenues from the EU Emissions Trading System.

How many of these projects have been built? Not a single one.

If we couldn’t deliver on these projects in the past, why are we so sure we can do it now?

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The way ahead is not to abandon the idea of developing CCS and CCU value chains in Europe. Rather, I am convinced that we should double our efforts to deploy CCS and CCU value chains in Europe and I know that we have all the tools to do so. The timing is also right. Let me explain why.

First, with our climate neutrality target by 2050 there is a need for a radical acceleration of our energy transformation.

An important step in this direction is the Fit for 55 package adopted last July, where we made ambitious legislative proposals aiming to decarbonise, promote renewables and energy efficiency. But we should not stop there. We will propose a new package of measures at the end of the year to continue this endeavour, including for instance a hydrogen and decarbonised gas legislative proposal.

CCS and CCU are key to achieve our climate goals. Our models consistently show that they are very powerful mitigation technologies and that without them our decarbonisation task will be very difficult. 

In some of our scenarios, we see up to 600 million tonnes of CO2 captured in 2050, more or less half of this amount could be stored permanently underground and half could be reused in industry.

Recent figures published by the International Energy Agency show the potential that this technology can play globally. The IEA ‘Net Zero by 2050’ analysis assumes that up to 4 giga tonnes of CO2 will be captured in 2035 and that this will reach 7.6 giga tonnes in 2050. The IEA is however more sceptical as regards CO2 utilisation and foresees that 95% of the CO2 will be permanently stored underground.

It is important to point out that when we initially designed support for CCS we thought it would be mainly used in power generation. Our view has shifted over the years.

Our models today show a limited impact in the power sector. On the other hand, the technology could be essential in decarbonising the hard-to-abate industrial sectors like cement or steel. We also see the need to capture CO2 from more, smaller and more dispersed plants.

The technology will also be instrumental in advancing our plans for low-carbon hydrogen production. In our hydrogen strategy for a climate-neutral Europe, we underline that the priority is to develop clean, renewable hydrogen, produced by using mainly wind and solar energy. This is the most compatible option with the EU’s climate neutrality goal.

However, in the short and medium term low-carbon hydrogen will be needed to rapidly reduce emissions from existing hydrogen production and support the development of a viable market at a significant scale. This is exactly where CCS and CCU technologies can play a role.

Moreover, when we capture and permanently store underground biogenic CO2, we will deliver negative emissions to balance out some residual emissions in our economy, which would otherwise be very expensive or even impossible to remove.

A second reason why I believe that we should continue supporting CCS and CSU is that today we are in a much better position in comparison to some years ago. Many important policy tools are already in place.

There is an enabling regulatory framework for CO2 storage. Pipelines transporting the gas can get EU support under the Trans European Energy Networks regulation and from the Connecting Europe Facility.

We are supporting a CCUS project network that provides its members with a platform to exchange knowledge and experience.

There has been also a continuous support for research, innovation and development, mainly under Horizon Europe. And the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan) includes ambitious targets for the development of CCS and CCU.

The Emission Trading System, with its price around 60 Euros, does provides today a real incentive for CCS projects and the Innovation Fund is an important source of funding also for CCS and CCU projects.

Another important incentive for investors is the EU Taxonomy where CCS has been included as one of the eligible green solutions.

A third reason is that an increasing number of Member States and companies are developing CCS and CCU strategies, support schemes and projects.

Quite a few Member States in fact listed investment in CCS and CCU as part of their national Recovery Plans.

Member States are also earmarking resources from their national budgets. For example, the Netherlands have already awarded 2bn euro to a consortium developing a carbon storage project near the Port of Rotterdam. Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Greece and Sweden are also supporting CCS and CCU. And beyond the EU, our partners Norway, Iceland and the UK are also doing the same.

The private sector is also moving. You will hear later today that cement, chemical and refining industries are among those sectors that are stepping up their game.

There is also a growing interest in applying the technology to create carbon removals.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the European Commission, we believe that this time around the conditions are there for the successful deployment of CCS and CCU.

The increased climate ambition requires advancement of all low carbon technologies including CCS and CCU.

We have put in place many policy tools that support the technology.

Member States and the private sector are stepping up their efforts to support and deploy the technology.

What else is needed to see the potential of CCS and CCU fully realised?

I have already told you that the focus in the capture part of the technology has shifted away from power generation and towards the industry. Decarbonising hard to abate sectors means providing many installations in industrial hubs with an option to transport and store their emissions. This should be one of our priorities. Creating the conditions for CO2 storage hubs to emerge and linking them with industrial hubs.

We also need to step up awareness raising on CCS and CCU. The technology has a role to play in our energy transition but it still suffers from many myths and misconceptions. We need to keep on explaining its potential for decarbonisation and that as regards carbon storage safety is the priority.

The international co-operation in the field is crucial. The value chains will naturally span over the borders and it is essential to make this as easy as possible. In this context, the co-operation between the EU, Norway and the UK but also with other partners including the US will be key. It will help create a market and economies of scale but also international standards, including on carbon removals.

Obviously, we need some projects built and operating as soon as possible. Seeing is believing. I’m convinced this is more true for CCS and CCU than for other technologies. I hope that the new funding mechanisms in Europe will encourage industry to step up their efforts investing in industrial scale projects.

Last but not least, I’m sure that some elements of our policy are missing. I do not claim we know it all. We are keen to plug the holes in our knowledge and in policy but we need help in identifying them.

We designed this Forum to serve exactly this purpose. It is a forum for you to give us feedback, suggestions, ideas and yes, even criticism. And for us to consult you on all initiatives relevant to CCS and CCU.

Let me conclude by wishing you all an interesting event.

The floor is yours. Thank you.