Data Projects

The CCS potential for Waste-to-Energy plants

There is increasing interest in the potential for capturing CO2 from waste-to-energy (WtE) plants in Europe, and safely storing it. But how many of these plants are there in Europe, how much CO2 do they emit and how much could be captured?

CEWEP, the Confederation of European Waste to Energy Plants, holds an overview of the WtE plants in Europe, which we reproduced on the map below.

Waste-to-Energy plants in Europe in 2018, based on data from CEWEP. Bubble size represents the plant capacity

In 2018 there were 492 WtE plants in Europe, with a total capacity of 96 million tonnes of waste per year. Waste tends to emit ca. 1 tonne of CO2 for each tonne of waste incinerated (figure to the right), so we estimate the yearly CO2 emissions from WtE plants in Europe to 96 million tonnes CO2.

Correlation between waste capacity and CO2 emissions for 252 WtE plants in Europe (source: Endrava, based on data from CEWEP and CaptureMap)

WtE plants are particularly interesting seen from a city perspective. Our calculations show that at least half of the European WtE plants are located within less than 25km from a large city (min 100 000 inhabitants). More and more cities set ambitious climate goals, and WtE plants come in the way of reaching near-zero emissions for cities. One example is the city of Oslo, with a goal of 95% emissions reduction by 2030, and with two incineration plants that are responsible for approximately 20% of Oslo’s GHG emissions. It is no surprise that Oslo is one of the most ambitious cities in the world when it comes to GHG emission reductions, and at the same time on the forefront of implementing CCS on waste-to-energy plants. Carbon capture on WtE plants offers a solution to drastically reduce cities emissions while solving issues related to non-recyclable waste.

But what is the potential for CCS on WtE plants in Europe? Our data from CaptureMap shows that about half of all the plants, the largest ones, are responsible for ca. 80% of the CO2 emissions. That would be a good place to start if one wants to efficiently reduce these emissions. On average, these large plants emit 285 000 tonnes of CO2 per plant per year, slightly less than the emissions at the plant in Oslo, but still very suitable for carbon capture.

WtE plants in CaptureMap, the size of the bubbles represent CO2 emissions

A side benefit with WtE plants is that about half of their emissions are biogenic CO2, meaning CO2 from the combustion of biomass, which is climate neutral. By capturing and safely storing this CO2, cities could achieve carbon-negative emissions, which will be needed for the world to reach our GHG reduction goals on the longer run. For the cities themselves, this could be a perfect opportunity to compensate for other emission sectors which will be more difficult to abate.

Share of biogenic CO2 from 85 WtE plants in Europe (in green), with on average 56% CO2 from biomass.

Testing at the capture pilot project at Fortum Oslo Varme has shown that at least 90% of the CO2 emissions can be captured with existing technology. Applying the technology on all of Europe’s largest WtE plants, one could capture more than 70 million tonnes CO2 per year, of which more than half would bio-CCS with negative emissions. Applying it on all of Europe’s WtE plants would increase the total capture to more than 80 million tonnes CO2 per year.

Data Projects

Comparing GHG emissions from personal vehicles

Our analysis of GHG emissions from personal vehicles show that electric, hydrogen and biogas cars are best for climate in Norway and Sweden.

There has been a lot of debate around the actual climate benefits of low-emission vehicles, and different studies come to different conclusions. Regional variations can explain part of these differences. We wanted to see if we could conclude on this topic for Norway and Sweden, and if our findings would be robust across vehicle sizes. To find that out, we calculated emissions from manufacturing, using and scrapping cars in both countries, taking into account variables such as fuel/energy type and origin, vehicle size and weight class.

Cars come in all shapes and sizes, so to establish a representative analysis we collected data on as many vehicles as possible, from available online databases and websites. Our dataset includes more than 7800 cars running on fossil-fuel, 6 models with hydrogen, 63 hybrid, 28 with (bio)gas, and 67 electric models.

We have data on manufacturer and model, fuel type and consumption (both theoretical (NEDC) and real), on vehicle weight and class. For low-emission vehicles we also collected specific data on technology, battery size, weight, energy density and energy efficiency.

We analysed the data and established correlations between vehicles curb-weight, battery capacity, battery weight and energy/fuel efficiency. There are of course exceptions, but most vehicles follow the same trend. For example larger electric vehicles have heavier batteries, with higher energy capacity and use more energy per kilometer.

Correlation between vehicle weight and battery weight for 32 models of electric vehicles.

We categorised the vehicles and identified low-emission equivalents for most of the conventional fossil-fuel vehicles within the six weight-classes A to F. We then combined the data on fuel use and vehicle characteristics with our data on footprint for energy and materials, to calculate the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of each car technology.

Illustration of our findings for hydrogen cars in weight-class C in Norway

This approach takes into account the differences in GHG footprint for fuels in Norway and Sweden, and differences in use of the cars. The conclusion is similar for both countries: electric, hydrogen and biogas cars are best for climate in Norway and Sweden, provided that the hydrogen is from low-emissions sources (e.g. electrolysis or reforming with CCS).

Findings for weight-class C in Sweden, across technologies and fuel types

They worked on this project:

Data Projects

Finding CO2 for capture and storage in Europe

Carbon dioxide emissions are, unfortunately, present virtually everywhere in the world. Finding sources of CO2 emissions large enough to be captured and stored is however a more challenging task.

Carbon dioxide emissions are virtually everywhere in Europe, but which of these can be captured and stored?

Large power plants, industrial sites and waste incineration plants are typically good candidates for CO2 capture and storage, since they emit large quantities of CO2 at fixed locations. In 2017 there were ca. 2000 of these plants in Europe, each emitting more than 100 000 tonnes CO2 per year.

Endrava mapped each of the plants in our data-analysis tool, captureMap. The Norwegian oil and gas association supported the initial development of the tool.

CaptureMap shows that large sites emitted 1 644 million tonnes CO2 in 2017, which is 38% of the European GHG emissions. Of these, our estimations show that 1 337 million tonnes CO2 could be captured, from ca. 1 800 large emission sites in Europe. This represent about one third of all the greenhouse gas emissions in Europe in 2017.

1800 sites in Europe could implement carbon capture, which could make it possible to store 1 337 million tonnes CO2 per year, ca. 30% of the European GHG emissions

Our tool allows finding candidates for piloting and scaling-up carbon capture in Europe, and is already successfully used by the Northern Lights project for this purpose. It includes metadata about each emission site, distances to sea and to potential storage hubs, potentially important clusters of emissions, as well as an overview of coastal and innland ports in Europe.

Illustration of the CO2 database

They work on this project:

Valentin Vandenbussche
Sigrid Møyner Hohle
Eric Rambech