BLOG: Coincidence or just excellent planning?

Timing of the ALIGN-CCUS project is perfect for supporting CCUS deployment goals in the Netherlands

By Tom Mikunda, TNO (WP5 lead, Industrial Clusters)

In early October 2017, the ALIGN-CCUS project held its research kick-off meeting in Amsterdam. During the event, experts from academia, research, industry and NGOs representing the 31 partners of ALIGN-CCUS excitedly planned how to achieve their shared goal of transforming six European industrial regions into economically robust, low-carbon centres by 2025. These industrial clusters are located in the UK, Norway, Germany, Romania and the Netherlands.  

Five days later, the newly formed cabinet of the Dutch political parties – VVD, CDA, D66 and the ChristenUnie – released the long-awaited coalition agreement, a document outlining the key policies of the Dutch government for the period of 2017-2021. The plans include an ambitious acceleration in national climate policy to contribute to reaching the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. The agreement highlighted that CO₂ capture and storage (CCS) must play a central role in decarbonising Dutch heavy industry.  

The main target of the coalition government is a 49 per cent reduction in CO₂ emissions from 1990 levels by 2030, equating to an annual reduction of 56 million tonnes (Mt) of CO₂. The emission reduction targets will be formalised in a new climate law. Based on scenarios from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), an overview of the foreseen reductions per sector and associated measures have been included (see Table). Noteworthy is the contribution of CCUS towards the overall target, with an 18 Mt reduction from the industrial sector, and a 2 Mt reduction from the waste incineration sector foreseen. 

(Source: Translated from Regeerakkoord 2017 – 2021)

Furthermore, the document also highlighted that the industrial clusters of both Rotterdam and Amsterdam must be supported in realising the deployment of CCUS. Thankfully, the Netherlands has invested well in R&D on CCUS in recent years, and has continued to do so with the ERA-NET ACT funding programme, alongside the other eight partner countries of ACT.

Through the funding secured by ALIGN-CCUS from ACT, combined with in-kind partner contributions, the project is able to support the deployment of CCUS in the Netherlands in the following key areas:

  • Reducing the cost of post-combustion capture, applicable to both oil refinery processes, cement and steel production;
  • Improving knowledge on the suitability of CO₂ storage locations on the Dutch continental shelf;
  • Developing innovative business models to facilitate multi-user infrastructure in industrial clusters, such as the Port of Rotterdam;
  • Acquiring new knowledge on the public perception of CCS applied to industrial processes, supporting the development of effective and fact-based public communication strategies.   

In addition to the specific points above, the Dutch participants of ALIGN-CCUS will benefit from the R&D outputs from work completed in the other ALIGN-CCUS participants countries of Germany, Norway, Romania and the UK. So, whereas in many cases research is often funded reactively to government policy, the ALIGN-CCUS is already perfectly positioned to back the goals of the Dutch coalition government with its mitigation policy in the near future.

Time to get to work and make a real impact!  

(Top image: Shutterstock)