Germany will store CO2 under the sea

January 28, 2023 at 08:59

Reading time: 5 minutes

Energy Europe

it is better to put CHO2 rather than atmosphere » : With this short sentence announced on January 5th, German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck paved the way across the Rhine for a controversial technology to combat global warming and carbon capture and storage. It’s called a process CCS (from English Carbon Capture and Storage), designed to decarbonize factories. It consists of capturing carbon dioxide molecules released during the burning of fossil fuels (natural gas, oil and coal) and transporting them to a geological space for long-term storage.

In 2012, environmentalist Robert Habeck nevertheless considered the technology dangerous, noting the risk of leakage, especially during storage. Mobilization of civil society against the projects at that time CCS He led Angela Merkel’s conservative and liberal-democratic government to ban them except for scientific research.

Also read: Germany’s energy transition: the turmoil of the Merkel years

Now the head of the Federal Ministry of Economy and Climate, Robert Habek, intends to cancel this decision. According to him, Germany now has no other choice to achieve climate neutrality, that is, to withdraw from 761 million tons. CHO2 In 2022, it will drop to zero in 2045.

We have lost so much time that we must make this decision precisely. We take what is available », he argued during a visit to Norway, a leading country in the field. While reducing emissions, Germany must maintain up to 73 million tons CHO2 in the year » To meet its climate commitments, the ministry said in a report published before Christmas. The technology is mature and proven »provides the report.

one” an excuse » to continue selling natural gas

The government chooses to go against the opinion of the Federal Environment Bureau, which is equivalent to Ademe in France. In a study published in 2020, the state agency considers natural carbon sinks such as forests and sustainable tree management » offset emissions inevitable » industry and agriculture, so that CCS According to the current state of knowledge in Germany, it is not necessary to achieve carbon neutrality ». However, experts recommend further scientific research to be able to use it if its use proves to be essential ».

For activists opposed to carbon sequestration, the technology requires a lot of energy and its very long-term risks are immeasurable. This is an excuse by the gas industry to continue selling and producing natural gas »Kerstin Meyer of the environmental association Bund says she condemns it green wash ».

The North Sea must not become a dustbin CO2 »

Before focusing on 5 % of unavoidable emissions, we should already focus on 95 % I mean. Investing heavily in this technology delays decarbonisation », he is afraid. Future reform is also being discussed within the German Greens. The North Sea must not become a dustbin CHO2 »Liza Badum, the chairman of the parliament’s climate protection and energy committee, warned about this.

At this stage, it is much less than in 2012. A reform bill to allow the construction of private commercial infrastructures must be submitted to the Bundestag-parliamentary assembly during 2023. This is to allow the export of one hand CHO2 for storage abroad and on the other hand to allow storage on German territory, in particular in the North Sea. Projects CCS can also receive state subsidies. Exploration of geological areas suitable for disposal has been started.

Project pipelines

Berlin follows the global trend. Bets on Europe, Norway, Holland, Denmark and Belgium CCS. In France, ArcelorMittal has installed a capture device at its Dunkirk steel plant. But the development potential of the sector is the biggest in Germany. Industry accounts for almost a quarter of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Germany is the leading producer of steel and cement in Europe CCS to improve carbon footprints.

The big fossil companies are already there starting blocks. Last August, even before the government’s announcement, the German oil and gas company Wintershall Dea and Norwegian Equinor unveiled a 900-kilometer long pipeline project between the two countries through the North Sea: 20 million tons per year, 40 million tons of carbon dioxide produced in Germany, to the Norwegian Sea. should be transported to the storage areas at the bottom. It is planned to be commissioned Before 2032 ». This time, the second pipeline project between the industrial region of North Rhine-Westphalia and the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands is being implemented by a consortium of Shell and oil companies. BPcoal company RWEsteel maker ThyssenKrupp and cement maker Heidelberg Materials.

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