Capturing Europe's attention

Capturing Europe's attention

Interview with Mike Gibbons, Chair of the Steering Committee of the European CCS Demonstration Project Network.

This is an excerpt from an article  published in March edition of  Science and Technology Magazine by Pan European Networks. Read the full article  ‘Capturing Europe’s attention’ here

What are the overarching aims of the network, and how have these evolved since its inception?

The European Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Demonstration Project Network was established in 2009 by the European Commission to accelerate the deployment of safe, large scale and commercially viable CCS projects. To achieve this goal, this community of leading CCS demonstration projects is committed to sharing technical knowledge and experiences, both internally and externally, in order to support both projects and policymakers to understand and overcome the hurdles to deployment. All participants have benefitted from participating in the network, which is actively seeking new members and welcomes all enquiries. The fundamental goals of the network have not changed, but operationally it has evolved to encourage an increased level and depth of knowledge sharing between projects, but also with external parties. Detailed technical topics and management issues are actively discussed, and there is an increased engagement with external bodies in the R&D and private sector. Seeing the value of the network, the Norwegian Sleipner Project also elected to join this group. The network is also starting to provide fact based advice to policy makers, providing a unique, project-focused view on the successes and barriers facing deployment, and the current state of large scale project development.

According to the Situation Report 2012,many demonstration projects are not developing as quickly as originally anticipated. What are the main reasons for this, and how can they be resolved?

Unfortunately, in Europe, no projects are reaching operation as quickly as originally anticipated–and the number of projects under development has fallen as projects have been cancelled. We have seen member project cancellations in Germany, Italy and Poland as a direct consequence of unfavourable operating environments – primarily a lack of political support resulting in unworkable permitting arrangements and/or a lack of financial support in what has been a period of austerity. Those that haven’t stopped their development are still facing an extremely difficult situation. Despite being extremely advanced (having successfully completed their technical designs and most of their permitting) the ROAD, Compostilla and Don Valley projects are struggling to make positive financial investment decisions. With little or no income in return for running this clean technology, there is currently no reason why they should invest and operate in a competitive electricity market. A number of proposals are being made at a European and member state level to provide mechanisms for sustainable and widespread CCS operations. However, it is vital that immediate support is given to a small number of early movers. If support is not given extremely urgently, it is highly likely that the number of cancellations will just grow, and Europe will further jeopardise its competitiveness, environmental credentials, economy and industrial base.