The UK Government is being urged to act now in order to deliver carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) at scale and at the lowest cost.
That’s the recommendation of the CCUS Cost Challenge Taskforce, which was established in January this year, with the remit of informing and proposing a strategic plan to government for supporting the development of the technology in the UK.
CCUS is when carbon from power stations and industry is captured and either used for industrial applications or transported to be stored safely underground.
The taskforce believes CCUS has a key role to play in decarbonising the country and unlocking major economic, social and environmental benefits – it can enable low carbon industrial products, decarbonised electricity and gas, a hydrogen economy, greenhouse gas removal and new industries based around using CO2.
However, it warns time is limited if the UK is to deliver it at scale, which may be necessary by 2050, with potentially more than 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year needing to be stored.
It recommends CCUS to be established in “clusters” to maximise potential cost reductions and to realise the cross-sectoral value of the technology – the taskforce is urgently calling on government to publish its policy framework and criteria in early 2019.
The report echoes recommendations of the UK Committee on Climate Change on the pressing need to deploy CCUS at scale to achieve the 2050 targets, with at least two clusters operational from the mid-2020s.
The location of potential first CCUS clusters and CO2 storage sites include Teesside, Humberside, Merseyside, Scotland and South Wales.
The taskforce suggests a pipeline of deliverable and financeable projects needs a joint industry and government vision to unlock the investment required and deliver a strong partnership with the private sector, which can provide the financial support.
It also recommends industry and government to promote international co-operation, including accelerating the option of shipping CO2 across international borders to enable the development of pan-European CO2 storage services.
The report states: “To meet the government’s aim of ‘having the option to deploy CCUS at scale during the 2030s, subject to costs coming down sufficiently’, we need to start implementation as soon as possible, given the time needed by industry to development potential projects for deployment.
“Delivering an industry capable of storing at least 60 – and potentially up to 180MTPA – will take considerable time and ambition. It needs to be supported by a consistent policy framework and investment.”
She added: “There is international recognition that we need CCUS to meet the global climate ambitions agreed through the Paris Agreement in 2015 and while there are now over 20 CCUS projects globally, it remains a pre-commercial technology.
“This means there is a genuine opportunity for the UK to become a global technology leader for CCUS, working internationally with industry and governments to drive down the cost of deployment.”