Meeting the UK’s climate change commitments could be challenging without investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS).
That’s the warning from the Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECC), which comes as the government scrapped the £1 billion CCS competition last year.
Its new report suggests CCS technology should be applied to new gas-fired power stations and energy intensive industries to meet the country’s targets agreed at the COP21 conference in Paris in December.
It adds without CCS, the UK may have to find “large and potentially more expensive carbon savings” to meet the legally binding targets.
While building the infrastructure needed for CCS requires large upfront investments initially, the Committee expects costs of future projects to fall “rapidly”.
Angus MacNeil MP, ECC Chair said: “If we don’t invest in the infrastructure needed for carbon capture and storage technology now, it could be much more expensive to meet our climate change targets in the future. Gas-fired power stations pump out less Carbon Dioxide than ones burning coal but they are still too polluting.
“If the government is committed to the climate change pledges made in Paris, it cannot afford to sit back and simply wait and see if CCS will be deployed when it is needed. Getting the infrastructure in place takes time and the government needs to ensure that we can start fitting gas-fired power stations with carbon capture and storage technology in the 2020s.”
The report also warns the government may have “lost an opportunity” to exploit existing oil and gas assets in the North Sea, “which could have generated additional revenues”.
The MPs were told empty North Sea oil fields could potentially store industrial emissions for the next 100 years.
They are calling on DECC to assess the financial and other benefits of using the UK’s existing infrastructure to facilitate CCS on a commercial scale and consult on whether it should be one of its priority areas.
A spokesperson from DECC said: “We haven’t closed the door to CCS technology in the UK but as part of our ongoing work to get Britain’s finances back on track, we have had to take difficult decisions to control government spending.
“CCS should come down in cost and we are considering the role that it could play in the long term decarbonisation of the UK. We are committed to meeting our climate change targets in a way that is affordable and provides secure energy to our families and businesses.”