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Call for full integration of renewable Carbon Capture and Utilisation in the Renewable Energy Directive

German experts on CO2 utilisation have launched a petition calling for the full integration of renewable Carbon Capture and Utilisation (rCCU) in the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) post-2020.

Industry and research representatives from the emerging carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) sector have launched a petition for “renewable Carbon Capture and Utilisation” (rCCU), a term coined to denote that renewable energy is used. The initiators, nova-Institut GmbH, bse Engineering Leipzig GmbH and ETOGAS GmbH are calling on “those revising and extending the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) in the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework in the European Commission, European Parliament and the Member States” to fully integrate in the coming 2030 Climate and Energy Framework.

Power to X, grid balance and storage benefits

The authors argue that Carbon Capture & Utilisation (CCU) technologies will play a crucial role in the future renewable energy system and for climate protection. In the petition the authors explain that carbon dioxide (CO2) how can be captured from a multitude of different industrial and energy processes, fossil and biogenic carbon sources alike. To utilise the CO2, energy for the chemical reduction of CO2 is required. From CO2 and hydrogen (H2), a wide range of fuels and chemicals can be produced by catalytic processes or with biotechnology processes using bacteria, algae or synthetic biology systems.

When CO2 is being processed with renewable energy, the CO2 is an infinite resource for producing fuels and chemicals with a high potential for climate protection thereof the coining of rCCU. In addition the authors argue that the most important role of rCCU is the ability to convert intermittent renewable electricity into storable alternative fuels or chemicals.

ETOGAS has built the world's first and largest industrial Power-to-Gas (PtG) plant in Werlte, Germany on behalf of Audi AG. The 6.3 MW power input plant has been producing Audi's e-gas since 2013 in dynamic and intermittent operation using wind power and CO2 from a biogas plant (photo courtesy ETOGAS).

ETOGAS has built the world’s first and largest industrial Power-to-Gas (PtG) plant in Werlte, Germany on behalf of Audi AG. The 6.3 MW power input plant has been producing Audi’s e-gas since 2013 in dynamic and intermittent operation using wind power and CO2 from a biogas plant (photo courtesy ETOGAS).

Therefore, the authors conclude that rCCU is systemically important for the liberalised electricity market as it offers the much-needed possibility to increase the flexibility of the grid and by do so, increases the share of renewables in the European electricity mix while providing low-carbon alternative fuels or chemicals.

Mechanisms proposed

The petition calls on decision makers to acknowledge that the European Union (EU) cannot afford to miss or to delay the deployment of this new option to utilise and store renewable electricity – the option being to extend the applications for renewable energy to include renewable fuels and sustainable chemistry.

According to the authors, the ongoing development of the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework and the reform of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) is a unique opportunity to establish a regulatory framework in which rCCU is fully integrated. The crucial difference between CCU and rCCU is that renewable energy is used in the latter. The climate benefits are even greater if the CO2 source is biogenic such as a biogas plant, ethanol plant or biomass-fired heat and/or power facility. This difference is reflected in the petition as the authors call on decision makers, involved in the revision of the Renewable Package, to include the following six mechanisms in the legislation:

 

  1. The increased flexibility of the renewable energy systems enabled by rCCU, allowing a higher share of renewables in the electricity mix, should be fully recognised in the RED reform and additional incentives for technologies delivering this “flexibility” should be implemented.
  2. In the methodology of the RED and the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), there should be a calculation method / default values accounting for “flexibility”.
  3. The utilisation of CO2 emissions from biofuels production by rCCU should be accountable towards the reduction of the GHG emission of the biofuels.
  4. This should further be incentivised by introducing stronger GHG emission reduction targets for biofuels or thresholds for land efficiency in the RED and the FQD. These targets can only be fulfilled by using biowaste as input and/or utilising CO2 emissions by rCCU technologies.
  5. The utilisation of green electricity via certificates of origin should be fully recognised for rCCU.
  6. The electricity used by rCCU should be free from extra levies for end consumers or renewables incentives, because the electricity is not consumed but transformed to another usable energy form.

The petition, additional ideas from the signatories and the feedback from the policy will be presented and discussed at the 5th Conference on Carbon Dioxide as Feedstock for Fuels, Chemistry and Polymers, in December.

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