CCS in Poland and Germany

Polish President Bronisław Komorowski

Both Poland and Germany could greatly reduce GHG emissions with the use of CCS technology. However,  political and financial barriers will inhibit the deployment of CCS. Keep reading if you’d like to find out what those barriers are, and recommendations for overcoming them!

Poland*

CCS could have a large impact on GHG emissions from Poland. Poland has a very high energy intensity of economy, and coal makes up a disproportionately large part of the energy production mix. According to the IEA, coal generated 92% of Poland’s electricity in 2008 (Global CCS Institute, 2013). Poland could capture 36-72 Mt CO2 per year if CCS technology develops rapidly.

However, Poland has opposed CCS projects within a broader EU framework. Poland has been a vociferous opponent of CCS directives at the EU level, even though it could greatly benefit from deploying the technology. The probable reason for this opposition is that any CCS directive would most likely require disproportionate investment in Polish power plants, as well as Polish iron, steel, and chemical plants. The contention lies in who bears the cost of specific interventions; although Poland has two small-scale CCS projects funded by the EU and two other operated by the Polish gas group PCNiG, it is unlikely they will scale up CCS projects barring some large influx of external funding (IBID).

Because Poland’s economy lags behind Western Europe on many indicators, it is likely that in the short to medium term, Poland will continue to oppose costly policy measures targeted at reducing GHG emissions. Poland has played the role of a veto player on numerous occasions, most recently at the negotiations over the EU’s 2030 climate change goals

Germany

Germany could greatly reduce CO2 emissions with the deployment of CCS technology. Coal is Germany’s most abundant natural energy resource. In 2012, Germany was the 8th largest coal producer in the world, and the fifth largest consumer of coal. Nearly all coal production serves the power and industrial sectors, and coal accounted for 24% of Germany’s total primary energy consumption. Because Germany is also one of the EU’s largest GHG emitters, it could potentially dramatically reduce its emissions with CCS technology.

However, CCS faces significant political barriers in Germany. While Germany has enacted a national level CO2 storage act, as per EU requirements, the process was very contentious. In 2009, a draft law envisaged commercial deployment of CCS. The legislative process coincided with CCS exploration activities in Schleswig-Holstein by the utility company RWE. However, lack of public acceptance over the exploration of for storage sites, concerns about pollution of drinking water and the risks of leakage, and fears about the infringement of property rights, drove the government to postpone the legislation until 2011. In the interim, RWE suspended its CCS project, while another utility, Vattenfall, committed to a small exploration project despite strong public opposition in Brandenberg (Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, 2011).

A significantly weakened piece of CCS legislation passed in 2011. One particularly important compromise surrounded the right of German states to exclude parts of their territory if based on reasonable grounds. It is unlikely that public opinion will shift in favor of CCS in the near term. The status of CCS is perhaps best summed up in a presentation on CCS from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology: “Overall, public pressure and opposition had a substantial impact on the legislative process. Open approval of demonstration of CCS technology is rare (IBID).”

Recommendations:

Germany

  • Begin an educational public information campaign about the benefits and costs of CCS technology. Doing so might sway public opinion to a more favorable opinion on CCS, especially given Germany’s reliance on coal for energy production.

  • Continue to foster an inclusive process of CCS deployment by engaging stakeholders early in the CCS exploration process.

Poland

  • The EU should ensure funding for CCS projects in Poland, this will mitigate the financial barriers to CCS deployment.

* This is an excerpt from the upcoming EU Paper by the Major Economies and Climate Change Research Group

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