On December 15, 2021, the European Commission released a Communication on Sustainable Carbon Cycles that sets out the EU’s vision and action plan to reduce fossil carbon emissions and to augment this with increased removals of carbon from the atmosphere in order to restore sustainable carbon cycles. We agree with the EU Commission that, “In order to reach climate neutrality, greenhouse gas emissions will have to be reduced drastically and rapidly while carbon removals will have to be increased and further integrated into EU climate policies”.
The policy framework from the EU institutions will be vital to enabling investment in high-integrity, permanent carbon removal solutions, like Direct Air Capture into storage (DACS). It is great to see the starting ambition that five million tonnes of carbon removal should be delivered by technological solutions annually by 2030, in addition to the worthy goals of greatly increasing the carbon stored through agriculture and forestry. The Communication further estimates that the EU will need to remove more than 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere using Direct Air Capture (DAC) by 2050.
DACS is a solution that can deliver large-scale quantities of permanent, measurable and verifiable carbon dioxide removal, with low land and water use. We are pleased to see the EU recognise the important role it can play – alongside emissions reductions and carbon storage in agriculture and forestry – in achieving net zero, and look forward to working with partners to kick-start investment in the EU in both DACS and use of atmospheric carbon in near carbon neutral aviation fuels.
Carbon Engineering first captured CO2 from the atmosphere in 2015 at our pilot plant in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada. The technology itself is ready for widespread deployment, and we are now partnering with plant developers to deploy large-scale, commercial DAC plants globally, including in Europe as recently announced in Norway. The first commercial facility to utilise our technology is being developed in the Permian Basin, US, by our partner 1PointFive. It is expected to extract one million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere when complete, with a target operational date of 2024.
It takes time to scale proven technologies and we need to start this decade. We see a place for permanent, high-integrity, technological carbon removal in voluntary and EU compliance markets by 2025 to address the most difficult to decarbonise sources of greenhouse gas emissions and help companies and governments meet their net-zero emission targets.
Carbon Engineering is often asked “what do you need to scale DAC?” Below we share our preferred five policy measures and how they are reflected in the EU’s Communication on Restoring Sustainable Carbon Cycles.
5 preferred policy measures
What’s proposed by the EU Commission, and Carbon Engineering’s response
|Target for technological carbon removals||Aspirational objective of 5 million tonnes per year for technological permanent removals by 2030.|
We are encouraged by this as a starting ambition and ask to see concrete targets and higher targets in the future in order to reach the scale required by 2050. This does not need to be aspirational – the technology is ready for deployment now.
|Robust certification for carbon removal||Legislation proposed by the end of 2022 and system for traceability of captured CO2.|
We welcome this and ask that the certification is sufficiently granular to differentiate on the source of CO2 and permanence of the storage.
|Open access CO2 transportation and storage infrastructure||Support is given through Trans-European Networks for Energy Regulation.|
We request that CO2 can be transported via all modalities including ship to offshore storage sites, and that open access CO2 transportation networks become operational as soon as possible.
|Large scale demonstration for first-of-a-kind installations||Through the EU Innovation Fund.|
We ask for more information on how the EU Innovation Fund and Breakthrough Energy Catalyst will work together in practice.
|Integration into compliance frameworks||In ten years time (post-2030) taking into account scientifically validated methodologies.|
We agree that robust certification is essential ask that the timeline is reduced and for integration into compliance frameworks from 2025 for high-integrity technological permanent carbon removals.
Atmospheric carbon into synthetic aviation fuels is in scope of the ReFuelEU Aviation.