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Blog: Assessing social and political support for CCS in southern and eastern Europe

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Dr Duscha and Dr DuetschkeIn this blog, Dr Vicki Duscha and Dr Elisabeth Dütschke of Fraunhofer ISI discuss their analysis of European regulatory frameworks for CCS and the project’s work in public acceptance

As past experience with carbon capture and storage (CCS) has shown, in many countries, public and social acceptance can become a big issue in the realisation of CCS projects – especially when it comes to the storage part. As such, PilotSTRATEGY includes a workstream – Work Package 6, led by Fraunhofer ISI, the German applied research institute and supported by Spain's CIEMAT – which is investigating acceptance of CO2 storage pilots in our five selected regions in France, Spain, Portugal, Poland and Greece

As a starting point for this work, the Fraunhofer team, together with experts in each country, have collected information on the regulatory framework for CCS in our focus member states. We have also researched the regulatory framework in the UK and the Netherlands where CCS is more advanced – to provide good practice examples and identify the gaps in the provisions in our target countries.

CCS Directive

Our analysis shows that, with its 2009 directive on the safe geological storage of CO2, the so-called CCS Directive, the European Commission provided a good common framework. This directive has been implemented in our focus member states. In addition, CCS project developers have benefitted in recent years from increased funding possibilities at the European level, including development of European infrastructure for the transport of CO2. In particular, CCS projects have benefitted from substantial support from the EU’s Innovation Fund, as well as from funding possibilities under the Coronavirus Recovery and Resilience Facility.

Our research, however, also shows that implementation of the CCS Directive alone is not enough to facilitate successful development of a CCS project in our focus regions. Additional measures are needed at the member-state level to develop a regulatory framework tailored to national requirements.

Creation of these national frameworks is normally part of the process of the development of a country’s first CCS projects. Here, we can see that our focus member states have several challenges ahead of them in realising a first CO2 storage project. This not only applies to regulation: in most countries there is also a need for a clear CCS strategy at the national level. What is still missing in our target countries is clear political support for CCS, together with a related CCS strategy and potential additional national funding opportunities. Such support is key.

Regional Stakeholder Committees

In the meantime, in PilotSTRATEGY, we are stepping up our societal engagement on the ground, with interviews ongoing in target regions, ahead of public surveys. These will be followed in the autumn by ‘Regional Stakeholder Committees’ (RSCs), an initiative started in STRATEGY CCUS, our predecessor project. The RSCs bring together local stakeholders to explore views on CCS/CCUS and its potential for development in target regions; as well as project members they include industry, community representatives, NGOs, and local and national government officials. They aim to provide a forum for discussion, knowledge exchange and feedback on our plans. Importantly, they seek to build the regional networks that – together with better support at the national level – will enable successful and faster delivery of CCS/CCUS, a set of technologies increasingly seen as critical to combatting climate change.  

Dr Vicki Duscha is coordinator of Fraunhofer ISI’s business unit on climate policy and Dr Elisabeth Dütschke is coordinator of its business unit on actors and acceptance in the transition of the energy system.

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