R&D investments in carbon capture and storage (CCS)
An interpretation of the R&D investments broken down per technology as shown in the following needs to take into account the associated uncertainties described in section 'Analysis of uncertainties'. In specific cases these may be higher than the actual differences in the R&D investments between individual technologies, therefore impeding a direct comparison between different sectors.
Research investments into CCS amounted to €296 million in 2007. Both public and corporate R&D investments largely concentrate on relatively few Member States and companies with headquarters in these countries, namely Germany, France, and the UK (as well as Sweden and Denmark with regard to corporate investments). Together with biofuels, CCS-related research showed the by far lowest amount of public funding with a share of 19% (see Figure 16). Somehow similar to the case of biofuels, this low amount and share of public funding might be explained by three factors:
- Firstly, CCS has only recently become a priority for many Member States, reflecting the increasingly stringent targets on climate change. This may not (yet) be reflected in the past decisions that underlie the public R&D budgets for the year 2007, which might imply an underestimation of current public R&D efforts in that area.
- Secondly, with CCS being a relatively new technology, many Member States may not yet have accounted for CCS in an explicit category, but ranked it within the category of 'fossil fuels', which has an important EU Member States budget of €240 million. This would also explain why data on CCS are available for only eight Member States.
- Thirdly, even though CCS is still in its developing phase, most of the single processes underlying it are rather well proven and the main challenges are its large-scale application and cost reduction. The latter may not be considered as R&D but rather demonstration or even early deployment, and would thus not necessarily be included in public research efforts.
EU funding through FP6 dedicated to CCS-research has been in the order of €70 million (or €17 million as annual average). This result is fully supported by an assessment made by the European Commission (2007e), which estimated the FP6 support to CCS-projects to be €70 million.
The elevated corporate R&D investments in this sector (around €240 million in 2007) can be motivated by the fact that most large utilities, oil companies and some component suppliers have an interest in this technology. This is underlined by the activities within the 'Greenhouse Gas' Implementing Agreement, one of the transnational R&D programme cooperation activities of the IEA, which is dominated and mainly financed by industry. Out of the 23 companies assessed in this sector, seven are electric utilities, three are oil companies, three are large component suppliers and another three are major chemical companies. Given the methodology applied, the intrinsic uncertainties of determining the R&D share dedicated to a certain technology are elevated for these companies as they are also active in many different areas (see chapter "Analysis of uncertainties").
Nevertheless, corporate CCS-related R&D investments are of the same order of magnitude as information provided by the Technology Platform for Zero Emission Fossil Fuel Power Plants in a letter to Commissioner Piebalgs from February 2008 (ZEP, 2008b), according to which the "corporate commitments" of the companies signed "to the early development of CCS, as well as the achievement of CCS-related efficiency-increase, already amount to a total of more than €635 million over the past five years in aggregate". This figure would more or less confirm the estimation of the present report when considering that the research efforts in later years have probably been more intense than those in earlier years given the increasing importance of CCS, and considering further that the present assessment is based on a group of EU-based companies that is (slightly) larger than the signees to the letter.
Figure 16: Approximate R&D investment in CO2 capture and storage from industry and public sectors
Source: Own analysis based on IEA RD&D statistics and official information from some Member States; FP6; EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard
Note: Some EU Member States are not IEA member and do thus not figure in the database; for others no data are available. R&D investments for Portugal, Belgium and Austria cannot be displayed at the current scale of the chart.