Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) is a Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) technology that will likely be necessary to reach global net-zero carbon dioxide emission goals. In order to assess the European BECCS potential, we quantify at 1 km resolution the technical potential for biogenic CDR considering seven different BECCS configurations that do not require purpose-grown bio-energy plantations. Combining process engineering with geospatial assessment, we find that up to 5% of 2018 European emissions, or about 200 million tons CO2 per year, could be mitigated with biogenic CDR from BECCS. Such potential is at the lower bound of the range of projected CDR needs for Europe. Two thirds of this potential is from existing point sources (pulp and paper, biomass co-fired, waste-to-energy, and wastewater treatment facilities), while one third is from distributed sources (crop residues, organic food waste, and livestock manure). From a geopolitical perspective, only a few European countries reach or exceed their CDR needs via BECCS. Those countries, which will not be able to reach carbon-neutrality with domestic biomass resources, will likely need to resort to other CDR strategies or import biomass from abroad. From a geographic perspective, distances from emission sources and storage sites are rather unfavorably distributed. Based on our quantitative assessment we conclude that: (1) tapping into the whole 200 million tons CO2 per year will be challenging because of the unfavorable source–sink distance distribution, (2) there is a need for more and better distributed prospective CO2 storage sites in Europe, and (3) the mobilization of these large amounts of CO2 will require the realization of a Europe-wide CO2 transportation network.

Energy & environment science nº5

Lorenzo Rosa, Daniel L. Sanchez, Marco Mazzotti

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