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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 be otherwise 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 (2020-2024). When combined with biogenic sources of CO2, such as sustainable biomass, CCS can generate negative emissions.

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

Carbon capture, storage and utilisation in the EU

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 provides a regulatory framework for 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 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 level until 2030 and beyond. The communication also proposes the way forward to certify carbon removals.

The European Commission adopted a proposal for a EU-wide voluntary framework to certify carbon removals on 30 November 2022. 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.

Innovation Fund support

The Commission actively supports carbon capture and storage and carbon and utilisation projects. 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, seven feature CCUS technology. The Commission will double the funding available for the next large-scale call of the Innovation Fund, which will be published in autumn 2022, to around EUR 3 billion.

HorizonEU support

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 improve existing CO2 capture technologies. A dedicated project will support 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 for support under the Connecting Europe Facility. So far the CEF has co-financed studies and works for PCI on CO2 amounting to EUR 143.9 million.

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

Following the publication of the Communication on Sustainable Carbon Cycles, the Commission is currently working on two studies: one on the optimal approach to deploy a EU-wide CO2 infrastructure, and one to analyse possible regulatory oversights over CO2 infrastructure in the EU including issues such as third-party access to transport and storage, tariffs or network development plans. The results of these studies will be published in summer 2023.

CCUS Forum

The CCUS Forum is an annual event organised by the Commission that serves as a platform for stakeholders. The forum 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. The first high-level CCUS Forum took place in October 2021 and gathered nearly 400 participants revealing a growing interest in CCS and CCU and the need for an ongoing stakeholder dialogue.

As a result of the first forum, three working groups were established: The first working group deals with the CO2 infrastructure and addresses the prevailing lack of infrastructure development. The second group is developing a CCUS vision document examining the role of CCUS in decarbonising energy in the EU, while the third group is about industrial partnership and works towards better industry involvement in technology deployment. The groups helped prepare the second Forum plenary in Oslo on 27-28 October 2022.

CCUS projects network

Until the end of 2021, the Commission supported and funded the CCUS Project Network, which facilitated knowledge sharing among major industrial projects underway across Europe. It is expected that carbon capture and utilisation knowledge sharing activities will be continued by a new “coordination and support action”, funded through Horizon Europe, set to start in 2022 or early 2023.


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