Fossil fuels, such as coal or oil are formed from the remains of living organisms in the past.
The EU aims to reduce the use of fossil fuels while improving methods of decarbonisation and transitioning to a low-carbon economy.
Carbon Capture, Storage and Reuse
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a technology which allows the capturing and storing of CO2 emitted by large fossil fuel power plants. These are mostly fired with coal, lignite or natural gas.
CCS could play an important role in the transition phase towards a decarbonised economy.
It would be particularly important in developing regions of the world, where fossil fuel consumption is increasing.
CCS has also been proposed as a key technology to decarbonise the existing natural gas network by converting grids from methane to hydrogen.
Unconventional Fossil Fuels
Conventional and unconventional fossil fuels differ in their geologic locations and accessibility.
Unconventional fuels can be found within pore spaces in a wide geologic formation while conventional fuels are normally found in discrete, easily accessible reservoirs.
Unconventional natural gas and oil are primarily sourced in three forms:
- shale gas/oil found in low-permeability shale formations
- tight gas/oil found in low-permeability sandstone and carbonate reservoirs
- coalbed methane found in coal seams
Different technologies have been developed in order to extract the fuels. The risks associated with these extraction techniques, notably hydraulic fracturing or "fracking", have raised concerns about public health and environmental effects.
Assessing risks in extraction and how to mitigate them is a key area of research for the Commission.
An EU-funded project has demonstrated technology to shorten the time carbon takes to mineralise underground - from thousands of years down to a few. Read more