CCS/CCUS a winner in first Innovation Fund round for large-scale projects

BASF's Verbund site at Antwerp, Belgium

The European Union has expressed its confidence in carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS), with CCS/CCUS projects faring well in the first Innovation Fund awards for large projects.

Four of the seven successful initiatives – which will together share some €1.1bn - involve CCS/CCUS, the Commission said.     

Launched last year, the Innovation Fund will provide an estimated €25bn for commercial demonstration of innovative low-carbon technologies over the decade to 2030. Funding levels will depend on the carbon price and the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) whose revenues finance the Innovation Fund. The initiative – which is also funding smaller projects - aims to help bring to the market industrial solutions to decarbonise Europe and support the transition to net zero.

The successful CCS/CCUS projects are: Kairos-at-C, a CCS project in the Port of Antwerp; Stockholm Exergi’s BECCS project at its existing heat and power biomass plant at Värtaverket; the K6 Programme, an emissions reduction project at France’s Lumbres cement plant; and a hydrogen/CCS project at Neste’s Porvoo refinery in Finland (see Notes below for further details of the four projects).

Neste said it had been awarded a grant of €88m.

“We are proud to have been selected as one of the seven granted projects out of more than 300 applicants," said Peter Vanacker, Neste chief executive. “The funding strongly supports our ambition to make Porvoo the most sustainable refinery in Europe by 2030.”

Air Liquide and BASF said Kairos@C, aimed at reducing emissions at the industrial cluster in the Port of Antwerp, aimed to be operational by 2025.

Benoît Potier, Air Liquide chief executive, said: “The energy transition requires tackling complex projects and joining forces of both public and private sectors to make these projects a reality. We are very pleased that the Kairos@C project has been selected by the Innovation Fund and will contribute towards the EU climate goals.

Separately, the Commission launched the second Innovation Fund call for large-scale projects, with financing of up to €1.5bn set to be available.

Unlike the first round, the application and selection process will have only one stage. Otherwise, the methodology for assessing projects will remain largely similar to the first call, the EU said. However, call documents have been improved to make the process clearer for applicants. The deadline is 3 March 2022; projects not successful in the first call are encouraged to re-apply.

Fourteen CCS projects responded to the initial large-scale call, with an unknown number progressing to June’s second and final round. Regrettably our member Fortum Oslo Varme was not successful (see our earlier story on its plans). However, in an interview with S&P Global Platts, it said it would consider reapplying.

Notes – details of successful CCS/CCUS projects

Kairos-at-C: an end-to-end CCS project involving Belgium, The Netherlands and Norway, led by Air Liquide with BASF Antwerp also participating. The project will develop a CCS value chain that will avoid c. 14.2 Mt CO2 over the first 10 years of operation and kick-start the Antwerp@C project, which is developing a multi-modal transport infrastructure for CO2 in the port. The large-scale CO2 capture layout will be a first-of-its-kind multi-feed scheme, which optimises and integrates CO2 capture and purification from five production units: two hydrogen plants, two ethylene oxide plants, and one ammonia plant. New energy efficient liquefaction technology will also be deployed while first-of-their-kind liquid CO2 vessels will be engineered and constructed for transport to North Sea storage sites.

BECCS@STHLM: Stockholm Exergi will create a full-scale bio-energy carbon capture and storage facility at its existing heat and power biomass plant at Värtaverket, Stockholm. Combining CO2 capture with heat recovery will make the process more efficient. BECCS@STHLM will capture and store large quantities of biogenic CO2 with potential to avoid c. 7.8 Mt CO2 over the first 10 years of operation. The project will be a catalyst for net carbon removals which will become an increasingly important instrument to reach climate neutrality, helping promote a new market for negative emissions. The captured CO2 will be transported by ship for storage in the North Sea.

K6 Program France: Led by EQIOM and also involving Air Liquide, VDZ K6 will reduce CO2 emissions at the Lumbres cement plant. The project aims to maximise the usage of biomass-containing and other alternative fuels and to take advantage of already-decarbonised raw materials. A novel industrial-scale combination of an oxy-fuel kiln with carbon capture that replaces the existing wet kilns, will result in capture of more than 90% of the remaining CO2. This CO2 will be transported by train and ship for storage in the North Sea or utilised in concrete production, resulting in an avoidance of 8.1 Mt CO2eq emissions over the first 10 years of operation. Integration of the K6 Program within the nearby port of Dunkirk supports development of the port as a future European CO2 hub.

SHARC (Sustainable Hydrogen and Recovery of Carbon Finland) Coordinator: Led by Neste, SHARC will reduce emissions at the Porvoo refinery by moving from grey hydrogen towards green hydrogen through the introduction of electrolysis facilities and blue hydrogen with CCS. SHARC will also scale the production of green hydrogen to help make it a viable transportation fuel. Through this transition SHARC will save more than 4 Mt CO2 in the first 10 years of operation and develop a strong supply chain from the refinery, by ship to the storage site. It will lay the foundation for a European hub for renewable hydrogen and CO2 utilisation.

Picture: BASF’s Verbund site at the Port of Antwerp. Courtesy of BASF.