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Failure to deploy CCS will double UK carbon-cutting costs says report

The UK should exploit its unique offshore engineering capabilities to build a carbon capture and storage sector.

That’s the verdict of a new report by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) which identifies steps needed between now and 2030 to build an effective CCS sector.

And it warns that any delay to the roll-out of CCS “increases costs through the need to deploy higher cost technologies to cut emissions, and failing to deploy CCS at all could double the annual cost of carbon abatement by 2050”.Carbon capture and storage

The report – written in partnership with Element Energy and Poyry and called Building the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Sector by 2030 – Scenarios and Actions – suggests three possible scenarios that would allow CCS to “realise its long term potential and play a key role in decarbonising the UK’s energy sector with the development of around 10 GW of capacity by 2030”.

The key conclusions from the report are:

Developing a 10 GW scale CCS sector by 2030 is feasible and affordable through a number of different pathways, if co-ordinated clusters are developed;

This scale of CCS deployment could capture and store around 50 million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year from power and industry by 2030, enabling CCS to develop in the 2030s to the optimal scale suggested by longer term analysis of the UK energy system;

Infrastructure is key to future development. Enabling projects to use the pipes and storage sites developed by the first two projects supported by the Department of Energy and Climate Change – White Rose in England and Peterhead in Scotland – will help reduce costs and increase strategic build out options;

Any delay to CCS roll-out increases costs through the need to deploy higher cost technologies to cut emissions, and failing to deploy CCS at all could double the annual cost of carbon abatement by 2050.

George Day, the ETI’s head of economic strategy and the report author, said: “Our analysis of the UK’s future energy system has consistently highlighted the importance of CCS in helping the UK meet carbon targets effectively and affordably. Developing CCS can also build on the country’s existing offshore engineering capabilities and safeguard the future of key energy-intensive industrial clusters and thousands of jobs.”

He added that apart from its role in power generation, “CCS can capture industrial emissions at low cost, provide flexible low carbon energy for industry, transport and heat through gasification and deliver high value negative emissions when combined with bioenergy”.

He said what Britain needed was “stronger policy and market signals to resolve uncertainties for investors, and early investment to appraise new storage sites for CO2 below the North Sea”.

The ETI is a public-private partnership between energy and engineering companies including BP, Caterpillar, EDF, Rolls-Royce and Shell and the UK government.