Europe can meet its climate change targets and achieve a low-carbon economy by unlocking the North Sea’s huge potential as a shared CO2 storage resource, says a new report published today.

Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage (SCCS) is launching the report at a special gathering of European Union politicians and policy makers in Brussels today, ahead of a European Parliament debate on the future of EU CCS policy. It comes one week after EU climate change ministers set out their vision for a low-carbon economy.

The report recommends a combination of practical actions and policy incentives for the next five years. If taken, these efforts will validate many gigatonnes of CO2 storage capacity needed by Europe’s power and industry sectors, and build a strong business case for attracting investment in a carbon capture and storage (CCS) industry. In particular, governments around the North Sea are urged to develop a shared CO2 storage infrastructure.

The report’s five-year action framework drew on the results of a conference of leading European CCS experts held in Edinburgh this September.

CCS is the only technology option available for reducing CO2 from many industrial sectors, including cement, chemicals and iron and steel. The development of CO2 storage is therefore essential for job retention and industrial growth as part of a European low-carbon economy.

The report’s release coincides with a meeting of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, which is debating proposals urging Member States to revitalise and strengthen their support for CCS. These include an EU-wide target to capture and store 10 million tonnes of CO2 each year by 2020, and undertaking projects to validate storage sites –supported by a robust mechanism for ensuring CO2clean-up at power plants and industrial facilities, such as a CCS certificates on hydrocarbon production or imports.

Prof Stuart Haszeldine, SCCS Director, said, “The deployment of CCS on industrial CO2 sources and power generation is essential if Europe is to meet its long-term climate change objectives, retain jobs and improve low-carbon competitiveness. But CCS is impossible without the availability of CO2 storage. The recommendations set out in our report identify how Europe can unlock the North Sea as a shared CO2 storage resource.”

Chris Bryceland, of Scottish Enterprise, said, “We already know that the offshore geography of the Central North Sea means CCS offers huge economic potential for Scotland. This report highlights how the scale of this extends across Europe - and this potential, coupled with our existing oil & gas capabilities, ready supply chain and existing infrastructure means there is a real opportunity for Scotland to be at the forefront of developing CCS. For example, if Peterhead is developed as an import facility, it could receive 4 million tonnes of CO2 per year, leading to the creation of over 500 jobs and additional GVA of more than £140m.”

Also today, energy ministers from around the world will meet in Washington DC for the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum to consider the role of CCS in addressing climate change.