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The future of carbon capture and storage in Europe

The future of carbon capture and storage in Europe

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a technique of trapping carbon dioxide emissions from large sources, such as power plants, compressing and transporting them for safe storage deep in the ground. The technology has major potential to help mitigate climate change. However, the costs involved, particularly in capturing the emissions, are high.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the future of carbon capture and storage in Europe (COM(2013) 180 final of 27.3.2013)



The European Commission’s communication stresses that CCS is a key technology in the transition to a competitive low-carbon economy by 2050. It is capable of reconciling rising demand for fossil fuels with the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It outlines the progress made to date and seeks the views of interested parties on a number of options to encourage the wider and commercially viable use of the technology in the European Union (EU).


Globally, over 20 demonstration scale CCS projects are operating successfully. Eight of these do the full capture, transport and storage. None are in the EU.

The communication identifies obstacles to wider use of CCS:

  • absence of economic rationale to invest in CCS given the low level of ETS prices;
  • public opposition to storing CO2 onshore (see background below);
  • sufficient storage capacity exists, but not all capacity is accessible or located close to CO2 emitters;
  • need for international cooperation.

Funding for large-scale CCS demonstration projects is available from the European energy programme for recovery and the NER300 programme.


CO2 can be stored in various places, notably oil, gas or deep saline reservoirs and unmineable coal seams. It must not come into contact with the atmosphere. Legislation in place since 2009 on the geological storage of CO2, known as the CCS Directive, stipulates how storage sites must be selected, permitted, operated and closed. They must demonstrate no significant risk of leakage or damage to human health or the environment.

A 2005 report by the intergovernmental panel on climate change concluded that geological reservoirs, if appropriately selected and managed, are ‘very likely’ to retain over 99 % of the stored CO2 for over 100 years and ‘likely’ to retain 99 % for longer than 1 000 years.

For more information, see the European Commission’s carbon capture and geological storage website.

last update 19.08.2015