Pathways for the European electricity supply system to 2050—The role of CCS to meet stringent CO2 reduction targets
Journal article, 2010
This paper investigates the role of CCS technologies as part of a portfolio for reducing CO2 emissions from
the European electricity supply system until the year 2050. The analysis is carried out with the aid of a
techno-economic model (with the objective to minimize the total system cost) including a detailed
description of the present stationary European electricity supply system (power plants) and potential
CO2 storage sites as obtained from the Chalmers Energy Infrastructure databases. The ability of different
EU Member States and regions to facilitate and to benefit from CCS will most likely depend on local
conditions in terms of current energy mix, fuel supply chains and distance to suitable storage locations.
Special emphasis is therefore put on analyzing turn-over in capital stock of the existing power plant
infrastructure, timing of investments and the infrastructural implications of large scale introduction of
CCS on a regional perspective. The paper discusses the role of and the requirements on CCS for meeting
strict CO2 emission reduction targets of 85% reduction from power generation by 2050 relative 1990
emissions in three different scenarios. All analysed scenarios apply the same cap on CO2 emissions. The
first scenario includes a continued growth in electricity demand (as presented in EU base-line
projections). The second scenario includes stated EU targets for 2020 and indicative targets for 2050 with
respect to increased energy efficiency, and thus, considers a lower growth in electricity demand
compared to the base-line. The third scenario includes EU targets (to 2020 and indicative targets to 2050)
on energy efficiency, equal to the second scenario, and EU targets of electricity from renewables.
The results show that it is possible for the European electricity generation system to meet an 85% CO2
reduction target by 2050 with a potentially large contribution from CCS. Up to 50% of the electricity
generation will come from plants with CCS with a peak capture estimated to 1.8 GtCO2 per year and
cumulative CO2 capture of about 39 GtCO2 between 2020 and 2050 (it is assumed that CCS will be
commercially available from 2020). As expected, countries which currently have high carbon intensity
and which are located nearby suitable storage sites will benefit the most from CCS implementation.
Hence, the results suggest that Italy has the largest demand for CCS with annual peak capture at around
0.5 GtCO2 in the base-line scenario. The model results indicate a steep ramp-up of CCS post-2020, which
imposes challenges for timely investments in corresponding CCS infrastructure including transportation
and storage. A continued growth in electricity demand can lead to demand for CCS to such extent (in the
base-line capacity build up is about 300 GW of CCS between 2020 and 2050) that the actual penetration
level could be limited by fuelmarkets and power industries’ ability to supply fuel and CCS power plants.