New report exposes claims made about bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) to be based on hype, not real-world experience
28th November 2022 – Today, Biofuelwatch has released a comprehensive report about carbon capture from biomass power and heat plants and from waste incinerators. The report compares the reality of existing projects and the technical challenges they face with claims that such technologies can make a substantial contribution to climate change mitigation and even remove CO2 that has been emitted into the atmosphere from fossil fuel burning. The report is published ahead of a legislative proposal for a new Carbon Removals Certification Framework by the European Commission which is expected to be published on Wednesday, 30th November.
The European Commission’s proposals, believed to strongly promote bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) amongst other fossil-fuel prolonging technofixes, have been criticised in a statement by over 170 civil society organisations.
Biofuelwatch’s report considers 17 actual or proposed biomass or waste incineration CCS projects worldwide, including in the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. It reveals that the amount of CO2 captured so far is minimal and that major technical challenges, including a large energy requirement for carbon capture and problems with corrosion, are not even close to being overcome. Several operators with so far tiny CO2 capture trials are vying for subsidies with claims that they can scale up those small trials as much as >1,000-fold (or, in the case of Drax in the UK, by more than 200,000 times) without any further research and development.
Moreover, all CO2 captured by such plants so far is either vented into the atmosphere, used in greenhouses to make flowers and other plants grow faster, or, in one case, used to fertilise algae grown to make anti-wrinkle skin cream.
Report author Almuth Ernsting from Biofuelwatch states: “Company investments into carbon capture from biomass and waste incinerators are almost entirely driven by subsidies, except in one case involving a pulp mill in Indonesia developed in expectation of carbon offset money. Those subsidies could and should be spent on proven, effective measures to reduce carbon emissions, such as investing in home insulation, in heat pumps and low-carbon renewable energy as well as in recycling and moving towards a genuine circular economy.”
Nearly half of the projects identified in the report involve waste incinerators rather than biomass plants.
Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator of the UK Without Incineration network (UKWIN), says: “No amount of carbon capture can hide the fact that waste incineration is a leakage from the circular economy. Carbon capture is very costly, both financially and environmentally, and any investment should be directed to supporting reduction, reuse and recycling. UKWIN welcomes this new report, which will help inform the ongoing debate around finding genuine solutions to our climate crisis.”
Almuth Ernsting, firstname.lastname@example.org , Tel +44-131 6232600