EU's largest emitter
Neuschwanstein castle, Germany, photo credit to Manuel Gerlach,
Welcome to the seventh edition of my weekly blog where I take a closer look at the policies adopted by individual countries in their efforts to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. Particular attention is paid to the role that Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) research and technologies are playing in the drive to meet these requirements.
This week we examine Germany who signed the Paris Agreement on the 22nd of April 2016 and brought it into force on the 4th of November 2016.
According to EDGAR (Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research), Germany was the highest EU emitting nation of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2014 and 6th highest internationally.
Similar to other large industrial powers featured in previous weeks of this blog, Germany’s Energy sector is their largest emitting sector with over 80% of national emissions. According to the UN Climate Change Secretariat’s greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions statistics for Germany, energy industries (46%) were their biggest offender within the energy sector followed by transport (20%).
Statistics published by Destatis in March 2017 show that German electricity production is still heavily dependent on coal, with 40% of all electricity generation coming from coal-powered plants in 2016. Renewables energy as a source for electricity production has grown steadily from 4% of total production in 1990 to almost 30% in 2016. However, this rise has been mainly offset by a decline in the use of nuclear energy over this time period, rather than a reduction in fossil fuel use.
Nonetheless, given Germany’s target of 40% reduction in GhG emissions by 2020 from 1990 levels, a recently published ‘EU Climate Leaderboard’ ranked Germany second behind Sweden with a moderate rating. The leaderboard is used to measure EU countries against the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR), Europe’s key climate change legislation. The legislation covers 60% of EU GhG emissions (transport, buildings, agriculture and waste) and it will help determine what the national emission reduction targets from 2021 – 2030 will be for each EU member state. The EU Climate Leaderboard is seen as Europe’s most significant climate tool towards the implementation of the Paris agreement. Five categories were used by the climate tool to assess and rank each country:
1. Starting point
2. Land use loopholes
3. Emission Trading System (ETS) surplus loophole
5. Ambition level
Germany highest category score was in the ETS surplus loophole category as it supports a reduction in the size of this loophole going forward. Germany’s lowest score was under the ambition level target as Germany does not call for a long-term target for the EU as a whole and instead focuses on domestic targets. However, this is not a uniquely German problem, with the exception of Sweden and France all the other EU nations were more pre-occupied with their domestic emission reduction target over an EU-wide target.
The Global CCS Institute highlights three ‘notable’ German CCS pilot projects in its
Global Status of CCS report:
i. Ketzin Pilot project
ii. Schwarze Pumpe Oxyfuel Pilot Plant
iii. Wilhelmshaven CO2 Capture Pilot Plant
The first two pilots are now complete. The Ketzin site was used by the German Research Centre for Geosciences for a range of storage projects. 67,000 tonnes were injected between 2008 and 2013 and ongoing monitoring of this storage is taking place.
Testing has also ceased at Schwarze where oxy-fuel combustion technology was used at the Schwarze coal-fired plant. Oxyfuel combustion is a process where pure oxygen is used to burn fuel, approximately 11,000 tonnes of Co2 were captured.
Wilhelmhaven is an ongoing project where Fluor’s Econamine FG PlusSM technology is used to capture Co2 using an amine absorption solvent-based process. Approximately 70 tonnes of Co2 are captured daily. Germany’s continued reliance on coal will make it difficult for the country to meet it’s Paris Agreement and ESR commitments. However, Renewable Energy as an Electricity production source is on a consistent upward trajectory. Germany has also invested in CCUS projects and favour more frequent compliance checks of the ‘EU Climate Leaderboard’ than the five-year intervals put forward by the European Commission.