Failed CCS competition not a complete waste of time

DECC must learn from its failed Carbon Capture and Storage project if it is to salvage any useful gains. According to the National Audit Office, the Government’s CCS competition was […]

Register now!

By Tom Gibson

DECC must learn from its failed Carbon Capture and Storage project if it is to salvage any useful gains. According to the National Audit Office, the Government’s CCS competition was a “high risk and challenging undertaking launched with insufficient planning.”

Launched back in 2007 by the then Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, it was cancelled four years later by the Department of Energy and Climate Change on the grounds of protecting value for money and because the project could not be funded within the £1 billion budget agreed at the 2010 Spending Review.

However, the results of various studies may help to reduce the costs of future carbon capture and storage projects.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office said: “In the context of value for money, developing new technologies is an inherently risky undertaking. Taking calculated risks is perfectly acceptable if those risks are managed effectively; but in this case DECC, and its predecessor, took too long to get to grips with the significant technical, commercial and regulatory risks involved.

“Four years down the road, commercial scale carbon capture and storage technology has still to be developed. The Department must learn the lessons of the failure of this project if further time is not to be lost, and value for money achieved on future projects.”

The report suggests a lack of clarity over government finance for the project delayed the early stages of the competition. When a budget was decided in October 2010, there was no agreement on government funding for operational costs. For its new programme, the NAO recommends the Department and Treasury should be clear on the public investment available.