CCS needs government to hold its hand, claims report

Despite renewed support for Carbon Capture and Storage from the UK Government following the relaunch of a £1 billion support competition, a report suggests the UK has a long way […]

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By Tom Gibson

Despite renewed support for Carbon Capture and Storage from the UK Government following the relaunch of a £1 billion support competition, a report suggests the UK has a long way to go in bringing the technology online.

Carbon capture is seen as a vital technology for the future of UK power generation, as it has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 90%, some experts claim. The new report by the UK Energy Research Centre maintains much can be achieved given the correct support, although there are uncertainties facing the industry.

Professor Jim Watson, Director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex said: “We still don’t know when CCS technologies will be technically proven at full scale and whether their costs will be competitive with other low-carbon options. So it is vital that the Government’s commitment to these technologies leads to several full scale CCS projects as soon as possible.”

The report was the result of a two year study which assessed the technical, economic, financial and social uncertainties facing CCS technologies. The report identifies four key areas where Government choices need to be made:

-Deciding whether to keep options open, or invest in a smaller number of techniques.

-Designing financial support for effective CCS demonstration and deployment.

-A patient approach  is necessary to achieve the right results.

-The UK has to deal with the issue of storage sooner rather than later.

Professor Watson added the UK was better off getting CCS right rather than rushing it through: “It will be vital to keep options open in the Government’s CCS commercialisation programme. Whilst it is welcome that the Government has learned from the mistakes of the past and now plans to support a number of CCS technologies, there is a long way to go before CCS is a reality at full scale. Complex negotiations with industry lie ahead.”

The Government opened its first competition for CCS in 2007, but scrapped it four years later when ScottishPower withdrew the Longannet coal-fired power station over problems with finance.