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Assessing the feasibility of CO2 removal strategies in achieving climate-neutral power systems: Insights from biomass, CO2 capture, and direct air capture in Europe

18 March 2024

Authors: Rebeka Béres , Martin Junginger , Machteld van den Broek

Journal: Advances in Applied Energy


To achieve the European Union's goal of climate neutrality by 2050, negative emissions may be required to compensate for emissions exceeding allocated carbon budgets. Therefore, carbon removal technologies such as bioenergy with carbon capture (BECCS) and direct air capture (DAC) may need to play a pivotal role in the power system. To design carbon removal strategies, more insights are needed into the impact of sustainable biomass availability and the feasibility of carbon capture and storage (CCS), including the expensive and energy-intensive DAC on achieving net-zero and net-negative targets. Therefore, in this study the European power system in 2050 is modelled at an hourly resolution in the cost-minimization PLEXOS modelling platform. Three climate-neutral scenarios with targets of 0, -1, and -3.9 Mt CO2/year (which agree with varying levels of climate justice) are assessed for different biomass levels, and CCS availability. Findings under baseline assumptions reveal that in a climate-neutral power system with biomass and CCS options, it is cost-effective to complement variable renewable energy with a mix of combined cycle natural gas turbines (CCNGT) for flexibility and BECCS as base load to compensate for the CO2 emissions from natural gas and additional carbon removal in the net-negative scenarios. The role of these technologies becomes more prominent, with -3.9 GtCO2/year target. Limited biomass availability necessitates additional 0.4–4 GtCO2/year DAC, 10–50 GW CCNGT with CCS, and 10–50 GW nuclear. Excluding biomass doubles system costs and increases reliance on nuclear energy up to 300 TWh/year. The absence of CCS increases costs by 78%, emphasizing significant investments in bioenergy, nuclear power, hydrogen storage, and biogas. Sensitivity analysis and limitations of the study are fully discussed.

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Last modified:22 March 2024 2.45 p.m.

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