France Backs CCS - An Article by Director Chris Davies

The French ministers for industry and energy transition have made very clear that CCS/CCUS has a significant role to play in curbing emissions from their country's hard-to-abate industrial sectors.

In a draft strategy paper that is out for consultation till the end of September they identify the 50 largest sources of CO2 emissions (with a longer secondary list that includes 110 of them), and the major industrial clusters in France. They suggest that the cost of full-chain carbon capture, transport and storage projects will lie in the range of €100-150 per tonne CO2. A contracts-for-difference support scheme is proposed to bridge the gap between the ETS price and the actual cost.

Opportunities for CO2 storage within the country are to be explored, not least for reasons of national sovereignty. And the ministers do not avoid the challenge of securing public acceptance; they point to many onshore geological formations that could prove suitable.

Offshore CO2 storage has long been seen as the best way of avoiding public criticism, even though it may often prove to be more expensive than using a site closer to the source of emissions. Denmark is known to be considering some onshore storage of CO2, but this would be on a small scale. For a country the size of France to propose such extensive use of onshore storage has the potential to bring about a major change in thinking - or could stir up such opposition that it will never be contemplated again!

The draft strategy calls for 4-8Mt CO2 capture pa by 2030 and up to 20MT by 2050. The quantities might be considered modest but they are a hugely important political signal, and demonstrate a commitment by the French government that is not currently to be found on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. 

Chris Davies 
Director, CCS Europe