Germany will change its CO₂ storage law to accommodate carbon capture and storage (CCS) for certain industrial sectors that were previously unable to use the technology.

CCS removes CO₂ from the atmosphere at the point of emission and stores it underground. Use of CCS has been restricted in Germany, but the nation has decided that for Europe’s largest CO₂ emitter to meet its climate goals, it will need to employ the process. Berlin estimates that it will need to capture between 34 and 73 million tonnes per year by 2045.

Economy minister Robert Habeck said that under new laws, transportation of CO₂ and its storage under the seabed will be allowed, with the exception of protected marine zone areas. On-land carbon storage will remain banned unless federal states ask Berlin to make it possible.

According to Reuters, Habeck said at a news conference: “The technology is safe, the CO₂ remains in the ground, and secondly, time is up.”

Habeck hopes this change will be the basis for a bill to amend the country’s carbon storage law and will create a clear legal framework for the development of a CO₂ pipeline infrastructure.

Berlin will need to ratify a clause in the London Protocol international treaty on cross-border waste exports before exporting CO₂ abroad. This protocol was amended in 2009 to allow transportation of CO₂ for sub-seabed storage. In the meantime, Berlin will start exploring offshore storage sites within Germany.

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Under the North Sea, Germany owns up to 8.3 billion tonnes of CO₂ storage capacity and could deposit up to 20 million tonnes annually.

CO₂ intensive industries that cannot be electrified, such as cement and lime, will benefit from the new strategy. Gas and biomass power generation will also be able to use the technology but will not be subsidised.

Nevertheless, environmental groups, including Earth Germany and Greenpeace, have spoken out against the use of CCS in Germany, saying it could cause “far-reaching climate and environmental damage”.