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Carbon capture, storage and utilisation

Carbon capture and storage is a set of technologies aimed at capturing, transporting and permanently storing CO2 that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) can be applied on industrial installations, such as cement or steel plants, and in power plants.

It can also be used to produce low-carbon hydrogen in the first stage of implementation of the EU Hydrogen Strategy. When combined with biogenic sources of CO2, such as sustainable biomass, CCS can generate negative emissions.

Carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) technologies allow reusing captured carbon, increasing its circularity and potentially reducing its emissions to the atmosphere.

Industrial carbon management strategy

The adoption of the EU Green Deal, the Climate Law and the subsequent proposals to increase energy and climate targets for 2030 have made carbon capture and storage technologies an important part of the EU decarbonisation effort.

The Commission already provides a regulatory framework for the safe transport and storage of CO2 through Directive 2009/31/EC on the geological storage of carbon dioxide. As regards CCU, the technology is regulated in Directive (EU) 2018/2001 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources, which promotes renewable fuels of non-biological origin, and among others, fuels produced from captured CO2.

In December 2021, the Commission adopted a Communication on Sustainable Carbon Cycles (COM/2021/800) that aims to establish sustainable and climate-resilient carbon cycles. It lists key actions to support industrial capture, use and storage of CO2, including the assessment of cross-border CO2 infrastructure deployment needs at EU, regional and national levels until 2030 and beyond. 

On 30 November 2022, the European Commission adopted a proposal (COM/2022/672) for an EU-wide voluntary framework to certify carbon removals. It will boost innovative industrial carbon removal technologies, such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) or direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS). Both these technologies can capture carbon and store it permanently in geological formations.

On 8 June 2023, the Commission published a call for evidence and open public consultation on the Industrial Carbon Management Strategy. The feedback from stakeholders and citizens will contribute to and help shape the strategy which is foreseen to be presented by the Commission by fourth quarter of 2023.

EU support

The Commission actively supports carbon capture and storage and carbon and utilisation projects.

Innovation fund

In November 2021, 4 out of the 7 awarded projects of the first call for large-scale projects under the Innovation Fund featured components of the carbon capture and utilisation value chain. The evaluation results of the second large-scale call were communicated to applicants on 11 July 2022. Out of 17 projects selected, 7 feature CCUS technology.

The Commission doubled the funding for the fund's third large-scale call, published in November 2022, to around €3 billion, aiming to further boost the deployment of industrial solutions to decarbonise Europe. The call closed on 16 March 2023, having received 239 applications. The Commission is planning to award grants under this call in Q4 2023.

Moreover, the third call for small-scale projects was launched on 30 March 2023 and has a budget of €100 million. It is open to any EU country, Iceland and Norway and projects including CCS and CCU technology are eligible to apply.

Horizon EU

The Commission also supports research, development and innovation for carbon capture and storage and carbon and utilisation technologies through Horizon Europe and stakeholder engagement, such as the Strategic Energy Technology Plan Working Group on CCUS and its associated European Technology and Innovation Platform ‘Zero Emissions Platform’.

Under Horizon Europe Cluster 5 Climate, Energy and Mobility), the Commission supports developing new and/or improving existing CO2 capture technologies. A dedicated project CCUS ZEN supports the integration of CCS and CCU in hubs and clusters, including knowledge-sharing activities.

Under Horizon Europe Cluster 4 (Digital, Industry and Space), several calls address carbon capture and utilisation in topics related to industrial symbiosis and Hubs for Circularity.

State aid

The Commission also enables EU countries to support the carbon capture and storage and carbon capture and utilisation technology through state aid under certain conditions specified in its Guidelines on State aid for climate, environmental protection and energy 2022.

CO2 infrastructure

CO2 infrastructure projects are within the scope of the Trans-European Networks for Energy. They can apply to become projects of common interest (PCIs) and subsequently apply for support under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). By 2021, the CEF energy co-financed studies and works for PCI on CO2 amounting to 143.9 million.

In November 2021, the Commission published the 5th list of Projects of Common Interest from the Trans-European Energy Network regulation. This list includes 6 CO2 trans-European infrastructure projects focusing on the development of CO2 hubs.

The Commission is currently working on a study on the optimal approach to deploying a EU-wide CO2 infrastructure. Moreover, the Commission ordered a study to analyse the possible future regulatory environment for CO2 transport infrastructure in the EU covering issues such as third-party access to transport and storage, tariffs or network development plans. The result of both studies are expected by the summer of 2023

CCUS Forum

The CCUS Forum is a robust stakeholder consultation platform established by the Commission in 2021. It aims to bring together representatives of the EU institutions, EU and third countries, NGOs, business leaders and academia to facilitate the deployment of CCUS technologies.

CCUS Forum and its Working Groups