The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) welcomes news that the Government plans to develop the UK’s first facility to capture, store and use carbon by the mid-2020s. Today’s announcement signals that the Government is recommitting to this vital technology.
The Government’s new Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) Action Plan, unveiled at a high-level summit in Edinburgh, includes a range of measures to enable UK deployment of the technology in around 5 years’ time. It also suggests the £315 million Industrial Energy Transformation Fund could be used to support industrial CCUS.
The CCC has long been clear that the development of UK-based carbon capture and storage technology is essential to reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the economy, and to meet the UK’s climate change targets.
The technology can play a key role in removing emissions from industry, in electricity generation, in producing low-carbon hydrogen and by opening up pathways for greenhouse gas removals more broadly.
In particular, the Committee highlights that:
- The Action Plan identifies several important priorities: the importance of clustering, the need for a separate approach to transport and storage infrastructure with revenue from regulated returns, the opportunity from international collaboration and the need for Government to bear irreducible risks.
- The Action Plan rightly identifies a need and opportunity to proceed at considerably lower cost than expected under the previous UK approach, whilst committing significant public funding (up to £315 million from the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund) to support the challenge.
- The Government has not yet proposed concrete approaches to tackle the challenges in deploying CCS in the UK. Many of these have been well understood for some time and should progress more quickly than proposed in the Action Plan – for example the model for developing infrastructure for CO2 transport and storage should be agreed by the middle of 2019, rather than by the end of 2019. Urgent progress is required to ensure that two clusters are operational by 2030, including large-scale production of low-carbon hydrogen, as set out in the Committee’s recent report on the role of hydrogen in a low-carbon economy.
Responding to today’s announcement, the CCC’s Chief Executive, Chris Stark, said:
“The Committee welcomes the Government’s recommitment to carbon capture and storage technology, which is vital to meeting the UK’s and the world’s climate change commitments. Today’s Action Plan sets out the right priorities – but the actions to deliver them need to be accelerated.
“We agree with the Government that the main barriers to rolling out CCS are not technological but in policy and commercial development – so we welcome the collaboration with industry in developing the Action Plan. We also agree that deployment must begin soon in order to meet those challenges, and we welcome steps to initiate a new project within a year and fully expect that to be operational by the mid-2020s.
“The UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy rests partly on this essential CCUS technology, so it’s imperative that plans for its deployment are robust, and rolled out in time.”