Coal industry lobbies UK government to revive CCS

The British coal industry is hoping the change in the country’s government can enable a revival for carbon capture and storage technology.

David Cameron and George Osborne took the decision earlier this year to cancel a à‚£1bn competition to develop the technology, Cameron saying “it’s not working”, but the coal power industry insists that CCS is vital if the UK is to successfully decarbonise.
Benjamin Sporton
That January decision by the government seemed to signal the end for the technology’s progress in the UK, with Cameron expressing the belief that not enough had been done to bring down its costs, but a change of government has prompted coal interests into action.

The World Coal Association has written to Greg Clark, the new business secretary, appealing for support for carbon capture.

“With a fresh pair of eyes in government, there is an opportunity for the UK to take another look at the issue,” said Benjamin Sporton (right), chief executive of the industry group.

In his letter to Clark, seen by the Financial Times, Sporton wrote that carbon capture was of “critical importance” to the UK’s chances of meeting its CO2 reduction targets and described the withdrawal of government support as “highly regrettable”.

Coal producers hope that greater integration between energy and industrial policy will work in their favour if they can make the case for carbon capture as a way to cut greenhouse gases while maintaining plentiful supplies of affordable electricity.

Mr Sporton’s letter says the technology could enable “continued use of coal for electricity in the UK beyond 2025”, referring to the government deadline for removing coal from the country’s energy mix.

The WCA chief also said that carbon capture remained crucial to curbing global emissions, given rising use of coal and gas in developing economies such as China and India. There could be a big export opportunity for the UK if the government promoted the technology, he added.

A report by the National Audit Office last month warned that the absence of the technology, or its delayed introduction, might lead to greater expense for the UK in the long run.

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