Carbon capture in the Baltic States

EU is committed to have zero net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. The most common of such gases is carbon dioxide (CO2), approaching 3/4ths of all greenhouse gas emissions. Those emissions are mostly born in transportation, energy production, and industry. To achieve the so-called "net zero" aspiration means that in less than 30 years the EU has to reduce emissions and remove the residual amount of CO2 from the atmosphere, or in other words to "decarbonize" the economy.

From what we know today, carbon capture and storage will contribute to decarbonization significantly through extending useful life of fossil-fuel-based energy technologies (something that is arguably desirable), and especially in reducing emissions in industry sectors that are notoriously hard to decarbonize, e.g. cement. The International Energy Agency forecasts that from 2030 onwards, an additional 10 heavy-industry plants will be equipped with carbon capture technologies each month, and half of fossil fuels usage is going to happen in plants equipped with carbon capture technologies. Industries like cement, oil refining, fertilizer production, steel production have long investment cycles, which includes investments into carbon capture; therefore, while 2030 (or 2050) seems far away, it's actually not too early to talk about the topic right now.

In light of this, CIVITTA, together with other partners in the region, initiated a project "Building momentum for the long-term CCS deployment in the CEE region", that aims to reignite the discussion on carbon capture and storage (CCS) in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). CIVITTA’s geographical area of responsibility is Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Ukraine. The intended outcomes of the project include improved stakeholder communication, tangible plans for national or regional pilot projects and input into policymaking to accelerate deployment of CCS in participant countries.

The project has concluded the analytical part, and here are some of the initial insights we found in the Baltic states:

  1. Geological conditions potentially allow the storing of CO2 underground in Lithuania and Latvia, but not Estonia [see graph 1]. Storage of CO2 underground, however, is prohibited in both Lithuania and Latvia. 
  2. Very few facilities emit more than 200 thousand tons of CO2 per year, which is roughly the threshold for industrial scale carbon capture. Taken together, these facilities emit more than 70% all CO2 that is subject to the European Emissions Trading Scheme. For Lithuania, the main emitters are: fertilizer producers, oil refinery, cement producer, a district heating company and a waste-to-energy power plant. For Latvia, that is state owned power production facilities, and a cement plant. For Estonia, power producer from oil shale, another power producer, and oil product producer [see graph 2, 3]
  3. All major CO2 emitters proactively seek knowledge about CO2 capturing technologies through developing in-house expertise or soliciting outside expert knowledge.
  4. Several companies have preliminary action plans for carbon-capture pilot projects that would be triggered if state support became available, carbon price would increase substantially, or a combination of the two.
  5. The main emitters show confidence that they could transform their main activities and both capture and store the CO2. The exact mix of technologies is not yet clear.
  6. One of the largest hurdles is the transportation cost of CO2. Overall, how CCS/CCU projects will be financed is not exactly clear.


All of the insights are freely available here.

For further details, please contact Ervinas Skikunas.

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