To avoid a climate catastrophe, timing is key: flexible transport solutions for CO2 to storage are essential to accelerate deployment
Carbon Collectors is a Dutch carbon dioxide transport and storage company founded in 2016, which focuses on flexible solutions for transporting CO2 to storage. As part of Bellona Europa’s #TenTTuesday campaign, we invited Anne-Mette Jørgensen, Head of External Affairs at Carbon Collector, for a discussion on the role and importance of multiple transport modalities on the road to net zero d 2050.
Why is Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) an important solution for carbon collectors?
“In our opinion, of course we need to reduce the use of fossil fuels in general, but CCS technology is now crucial to reduce emissions. Especially for industries that currently have no other viable technology to reduce their emissions. Also in the longer term, some industries will remain dependent on CCS to bring their emissions to zero. In addition, CCS infrastructure is needed to achieve negative emissions.
It’s part of our history as a company. Our founders, who started the company in 2016, wanted to have a positive impact on climate change and felt that developments were not moving fast enough. They realizeed that if we are serious about avoiding climate catastrophe, timing is everything. With experience in the oil and gas and offshore logistics industry, they saw carbon capture and storage (CCS) as an area where they could really make a difference. With the aim of quickly implementing the entire CCS chain, we are now focusing on flexible solutions for transporting and storing CO2, in particular using maritime transport.
Why do you attach so much importance to flexibility in transport, why do you consider it crucial?
“Well, it might be good first to explain how our CO2 transport and storage solution works and what makes it so flexible. We work with a push barge combination where we capture the CO2 where the emitters capture it. We use our barges as intermediate storage and, when the barge is full, transport the CO2 directly to an offshore storage location. This means that we reduce the need for all kinds of fixed infrastructure and provide a complete solution for issuers who do not consider CCS to be their core business. This allows for faster action and avoids any potential locking issues or stuck assets that you may face when using only pipelines. Just to be clear: we need pipelines, especially for very large emitters that will likely continue to emit stable amounts of CO2 for many years. But different solutions work for different cases.
Second, by using flexible transportation solutions, storage sites that would otherwise have been too small or too complex for pipelines can be developed. This can contribute to increasing the total CO2 storage potential in Europe.
Finally, the solutions we offer are tailor-made and easily scalable. For inland transmitters, we use a combination of transport modalities such as rail, truck and inland and offshore barges to provide a viable solution for different cases. A fleet of barges and other transport modalities can easily be sized to match the amount of CO2 from an emitter and CO2 from small emitters can be aggregated in transit to a storage location. We therefore believe that the flexibility we provide can help speed up the process of developing the full CCS chain and ultimately larger amounts of CO2 can be safely stored underground.
In your opinion, what are the main obstacles to the large-scale deployment of CCS on industrial emissions in Europe today, in particular for multiple modes of transport such as ship, rail, truck and barge?
“Here I would like to highlight three main issues. The first and biggest challenge is the development of storage locations. Serious carbon capture projects have multiplied in recent years, but the number of available storage sites is lagging behind. There is a need to rapidly develop sufficient storage sites, so that the captured carbon can be stored safely and permanently. This is where my previous point comes in: flexible transport solutions allow faster development of storage sites and the development of greater total CO2 storage capacity.
Second, CO2 transport and storage plans tend to focus too much on fixed centralized infrastructure rather than multimodal solutions. This leads to limitations. It is crucial that governments begin to facilitate the interfaces between different transport modalities, between flexible and fixed solutions to ensure an optimized system, and that they create a level playing field for the different types of solutions. Here it is important not only to enable development through funding, subsidies or permits, but also to send the right market signals. If governments focus on specific transport modalities in their communication, this may affect the solutions considered by issuers and storage owners. By focusing only on fixed infrastructure, ignoring the important role of multimodal alternatives, we are missing a great opportunity to reduce industrial emissions now.
The third challenge, of course, concerns the arrangements for cross-border transport and storage. People are still reluctant, for example in the Netherlands, to accept CO2 from other countries. From my perspective, I don’t think it matters for the climate where the CO2 comes from, but it needs to be stored safely and many countries don’t have storage sites available themselves. We believe that CO2 should be able to be transported freely in the EU, like any other product, provided it is properly disposed of. ”
How can EU legislation play a role in overcoming these obstacles and challenges?
“Currently, as only pipelines and storage are recognized as PCIs under TEN-E, this does not help to facilitate a level playing field between fixed and flexible solutions for transporting CO2 to storage. Although pipelines have an important role to play, it is a transportation solution that can only transport from one fixed location to another fixed location. This can create a monopoly situation if not properly regulated. By focusing on fixed infrastructure in any case, you run the risk of stranded assets and blockages when large investments are made in new pipelines. You also face an opportunity cost for small storage sites that are not developed and for small emitters that are not connected, as the large initial investments in a pipeline make transportation costs per ton of CO2 captured very high. Here, several modes of transport can be the solution. We therefore strongly support that several modes of transport such as ship, rail, barge and truck should be included in the TEN-T regulation.”