Carbon Capture and Storage: Government launches UK’s first roadmap

Furthering its mission to become the ‘greenest Government ever’, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has today revealed plans to make the UK a world leader in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).

In a bid to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Edward Davey today published the first CCS Roadmap, which will outline Government’s plans through 2020, as well as launching a new version of the CCS competition.

CCS refers to technology attempting to prevent release of large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere from fossil fuel use in power generation and other industries. The CCS process is based on capturing CO2 from large point sources, such as fossil fuel power plants, and storing it where it will not enter the atmosphere.

Included in the UK’s first CCS Roadmap is £125m funding for research and development and £13m set aside for a new CCS research centre. Government also plans to deliver long-term contracts for difference through Electricity Market Reforms, which are aimed at driving investment in commercial-scale CCS up to and beyond 2020.

Government has also committed to work with industry in order to develop skills in the CCS supply chain and assist in the CCS infrastructure. The UK is also expected to develop international partnerships in order to learn from CCS experiences around the world. This is also likely to accelerate cost reduction.

The newly-launched competition, dubbed the ‘CCS Commercialisation Programme’, will aim to drive down costs by supporting practical experience in the design, construction and operation of commercial scale CCS. The competition will include a total of £1bn in capital funding, alongside additional support, subject to affordability, through low carbon Contracts for Difference.

The competition follows a similar scheme that flopped last year. This time the competition will cover a wider range of potential technologies. The previous competition focused on post-combustion technologies that could be retrofitted to existing coal-fired power stations, while the new competition will allow entrants from pre-combustion technologies and for technologies that can be fitted to gas-fired power stations.

Commenting on the new version, Rhian Kelly, CBI Director for Business Environment policy, said: “While we welcome today’s announcement, the Government must learn lessons from its previous competition, which took too long and was eventually abandoned. This time around the competition must be simpler and completed as quickly as possible.

“CCS has the potential to contribute significantly to our energy security, reduce carbon emissions, create jobs and become a major UK export for the future. If we are to gain any advantage from developing this important technology in the UK, the Government cannot afford to waste this opportunity.”

Interested parties must register for the competition by April 13.

Speaking at the launch, Davey said: “The potential rewards from Carbon Capture and Storage are immense: a technology that can de-carbonise coal and gas-fired power stations and large industrial emitters, allowing them to play a crucial part in the UK’s low carbon future.

"What we are looking to achieve, in partnership with industry, is a new world-leading CCS industry, rather than just simply projects in isolation – an industry that can compete with other low-carbon sources to ensure security and diversity of our electricity supply, an industry that can make our energy intensive industries cleaner and an industry that can bring jobs and wealth to our shores. The CCS industry could be worth £6.5bn a year to the UK economy by late next decade as we export UK expertise and products.

“This is a really exciting time for the fledgling CCS industry. Our offer is one of the best anywhere in the world. We have £1bn available to support the upfront costs of early projects along with a commitment to further funding through low carbon Contracts for Difference, we have £125m to support research and development including a new UK CCS Research Centre, and we have the long term incentives in place through our Electricity Market Reforms."

Jeff Chapman, Chief Executive Officer of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association said: “We welcome this announcement; it creates an opportunity for the UK to take a leading role in world markets whilst cost-effectively reducing emissions, creating employment and generating prosperity. We are looking forward to working with Government to enable industry to capitalise on today’s announcement to ensure extensive investment in CCS over the coming decades.”

Friends of the Earth's Head of Campaigns Andrew Pendleton said: “If it can be proven on an industrial scale, CSS technology could play a role in cutting carbon from electricity generation and heavy industrial processes.

“But the Government needs to get its act together. Today’s CCS news is welcome, but the rollout of CCS was made much harder by the recent announcement that new gas-fired power stations built in the next few years will not require CCS until 2045.

“CCS shouldn’t be seen as an alternative to real clean British energy from the wind, sea and sun – it will need costly Government funding, raising people’s bills and keeping us hooked on expensive fossil fuels.

“The Government still needs to set its sights on a renewable energy future, which will create jobs and lower fuel bills in the long run.”

The new CCS Roadmap is expected to generate long-term opportunity for green jobs and green growth in the UK, potentially supporting around 100,000 jobs in the sector by the end of the next decade.