22 Jan 2024, 14:07
Julian Wettengel

CCS technology in focus ahead of govt review of Wintershall Dea sale

Handelsblatt / Reuters

German chemical company BASF's sale of Wintershall Dea assets to UK producer Harbour Energy could be a risk for the country's security, because it includes licenses for carbon capture and storage (CCS) – seen as a key technology to make industry climate friendly and ensure its competitiveness, reports Handelsblatt. Oil and gas company Wintershall Dea is a dominant German player in CCS technology, with projects across Europe. An expert opinion by law firm Schalast, commissioned by the organisation Clean Energy Forum (CEF), said that should carbon capture and storage not be available, this would present a risk for German industry and the goal of climate neutrality. The German government is expected to review the sale, reported Reuters. A government source told the news agency that the deal is not seen as being problematic. Still, Friedbert Pflüger, the head of CEF – which describes itself as a think tank pushing the debate on technologies needed in the transition – says that "if the sale is approved despite all the reservations, it must at least be linked to the condition that CCS technology is not sold as well."

Energy security and the question of which technologies must be produced at home in Germany or in the European Union have been more intensely debated since Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis highlighted dependence on other countries. In addition, the EU is trying to remain competitive in the global net-zero technology race. The German government has made clear that CCS will be crucial, because it is necessary to tackle hard-to-abate emissions from certain industrial processes, like cement production. The government is currently finalising its carbon management strategy with details on how to tackle the issue in the future. The European Commission has also included CCS in its list of "strategic net-zero technologies" in the proposed Net Zero Industry Act. The proposal sets a benchmark for the domestic manufacturing capacity of strategic net-zero technologies to meet at least 40 percent of the EU’s annual deployment needs by 2030.

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