Read our Executive Summary: “Current Context and Opportunities for CCU And CCS In Central and Eastern Europe”.

Read our Executive Summary: “Current Context and Opportunities for CCU And CCS In Central and Eastern Europe”.

CCU and CCS are complex processes involving a diverse set of technologies. They are particularly applicable to industrial sectors with hard-to-abate emissions, such as the cement and metal production industries. Economically speaking, CCS4CEE countries align well with these foci of CCU and CCS: many rely on their manufacturing sectors, while their energy production depends heavily on fossil fuels. This reliance on fossil fuels, coupled with sometimes distant or uncertain deadlines for emissions reduction targets, means that CCS/CCU for the energy sector cannot be ruled out in the CEE region. Various transportation methods, including offshore transport, may be available to move CO2 from these emitters to storage sites in partner countries or within the CEE region; however, CO2 transportation infrastructure is mostly absent.

The Donbass region in eastern Ukraine is a potential vast source for geological storage of CO2, followed by Romania and Poland. On the other hand, the Baltic States have very low storage potential. Most storage potential is in deep saline aquifers, but these have been poorly assessed compared to hydrocarbon fields and require more research and geological surveying to enable eventual projects. CCU may also show potential in partner countries, given the importance of the oil and gas and chemicals sectors and existing industry experience. However, the contribution of different types of CCU to emissions reduction is still unclear, as are the opportunities for regional CO2 utilization clusters.

Most CCS4CEE countries also have a history of research (and occasionally testing) of CCS. Future CCS projects would be supported by an existing ecosystem of know-how and experience with international cooperation – with Poland and the Czech Republic standing out. Private sector experience with enhanced hydrocarbon recovery and CCU could also accompany the existing history of academic research.

However, none of the above-mentioned conditions are sufficient to drive CCU/CCS deployment without regulatory and policy. CCS has been recognized at EU level as a key decarbonization pathway and is overseen by the EU CCS Directive as well as several other important legislative acts. However, the regulatory environments of partner countries are relatively underdeveloped and many fail to provide certainty for CCU/CCS, particularly on storage and transportation. Any regional cooperation in the short term would thus rely on using countries with favourable regulations for CO2 storage as storage “hubs” for emissions from countries where commercial storage is restricted or downright banned. CCU is relatively absent in the national regulations of all partner countries. Furthermore, their long-term national strategies rarely mention CCU or CCS in concrete action plans or funding, or even as priorities for emissions mitigation. Funding support is, however, available at EU level, and frameworks such as Projects of Common Interest may lend themselves to large-scale regional CCS projects.

Another crucial factor enabling CCU/CCS deployment is the attitudes of stakeholders, institutions and the public towards these technologies. Many stakeholders in partner countries are cautious about deploying CCS, due to its high costs, lack of clear government support and financing, and challenging administrative procedures. Many also tended to favour CCU (including CO2-EOR) over CCS, due to perceived lower complexity and risks. Virtually all stakeholders engaged in the CCS4CEE project highlighted the importance of regional and inter-sectoral cooperation, a promising note on which to continue the CCS4CEE project. In some cases, however, enabling CCS through regulation is a necessary predecessor to stakeholder engagement.

An overall lack of public and institutional knowledge of CCU/CCS is an important feature of partner countries (though likely not unique to just the CEE region). In contrast to the rest of the EU, attitudes towards climate action in partner countries are also less favourable. A history of opposition to other similar projects (fracking in Romania, for example) or even CCS projects (the Bełchatów CCS demonstrator) compounds the potential issues posed by low social acceptance of CCS technologies. The risk of CO2 leakage from geological storage areas is a particularly contentious aspect for public acceptance. Finally, whereas a strong positioning from institutions and adequate media coverage may contribute to enhancing knowledge on CCS, neither of these are present in partner countries.

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