Committee welcomes the Government’s decision to open its £9bn CCS demonstration programme to gas plants – 8 November 2011

The Government has announced that the carbon capture and storage demonstration programme will be opened to gas-fired as well as coal fired-plants. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne, said “Government is reasserting its mission to lead the world on CCS, by opening our funding process to what could be one of the first ever commercial-scale CCS projects on a gas-fired plant in the world. This sets us on course to lead the world in the development of CCS on gas as well as coal.”

The Government’s decision follows advice the Committee gave earlier this year in aletter to the Secretary of State. The Committee urged Government to consider extending the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) competition to include gas as well as coal demonstration projects, and to consider extending the proposed Emissions Performance Standard to cover new gas plant added to the system from 2020.

David Kennedy, Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change said:

“We strongly welcome this announcement. Carbon Capture and Storage is a very promising technology which the UK has the potential to be a leader in, and which we should demonstrate at  large scale as soon as possible. Successful demonstrations would provide a valuable option alongside renewables and nuclear for supporting the required decarbonisation of the power sector out to 2030”. 

Previously the programme had only been open to coal plants, which in future will be required to fit the technology to capture and store emissions rather than release them into the atmosphere. The Committee’s analysis shows that the path to meeting the UK’s 2050 target to reduce emissions by 80% requires that the power sector is largely decarbonised in the period to 2030 (e.g. average emissions should be less than 100 g/kWh in 2030, compared to around 500 g/kWh today). Currently, about one third of the UK’s generation capacity comes from gas plants, but this is expected to double later this decade as old coal and nuclear plants close.