A new report from Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (SCCS) details that the UK is now in a “use it or lose it” situation regarding carbon capture and storage (CCS), and has divulged a strategic policy to help regain lost momentum.

The report, entitled ‘Achieving a low-carbon society: CCS expertise and opportunity in the UK,’ outlines that the UK has offshore assets and opportunities to cost-effectively meet strict zero carbon ambitions via CCS, but warns that the opportunity must be grasped immediately.

SCCS CCS report cover

SCCS CCS report cover

Achieving a low-carbon society: CCS expertise and opportunity in the UK

MPs and external stakeholders are meeting today, Wednesday 23rd March, at the Palace of Westminster to discuss the potential for industrial CCS in the UK, so SCCS has released this report highlighting the potential opportunities that could create a viable route to a zero carbon economy.

Some of these opportunities include building a new offshore CCS industry to serve the UK and Europe and rolling out large-scale CCS projects to help decarbonise industry and power generation. It has also suggested creating new industries at clusters of industrial emitters around the UK coastline and developing a significant North Sea geological asset for carbon dioxide (CO2) storage.

Prof. Stuart Haszeldine, Director of SCCS, reinforced, “The progress and potential of CCS in the UK is much more than a government competition. Our report describes why we need to get one of the most obvious and effective climate change tools back on track.”

“The stark reality is that net zero carbon is unachievable without CCS. In the UK, we have an enviable set of unique offshore assets that, if used now rather than decommissioned, will deliver a least-cost pathway to a competitive, low-carbon economy. Any delay risks creating a considerable burden for UK taxpayers further down the line, as well missing the opportunity to build a homegrown CCS industry that can support the climate actions of other countries.”

Strategic policy

The authors of the paper have called for a reset of objectives and recommend a concerted effort by industry, government and academia in four key areas. Firstly, it is urging the UK Government to develop funding mechanisms for CCS on an industrial level, as many industries can decarbonise at a low capture cost but, at the moment, it still outweighs the currently high carbon price.

Secondly, it notes that future plants must genuinely be CCS-ready and their siting assessed alongside the viability and cost of pipeline and shipping connections to suitable CO2 storage sites.

The stark reality is that net zero carbon is unachievable without CCS. In the UK, we have an enviable set of unique offshore assets that, if used now rather than decommissioned, will deliver a least-cost pathway to a competitive, low-carbon economy

The report also indicates a need for a clarity on costs, as at present the first CCS projects are expected to bear the full cost of developing the necessary infrastructure, even though future projects would then benefit. It also specifies these costs should be separate from transport and storage figures.

And finally, the account details how the development of a Scottish CO2 collection and storage hub could “unlock a CCS industry serving both the UK and Europe,” and could provide access to extensive storage in the North Sea. It explains that by using cost-effective shipping, the hub could support the collection-and-dispatch hubs envisaged for Europe.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) previously released its Energy and Climate Change Committee Report on the topic earlier this year, after it was announced that David Cameron’s Government had axed £1bn of funding for the CCS Commercialisation Competition.

A global deal was reached in December 2015 at the COP21 summit, in which 195 countries entered a legally binding contract to limit global temperatures to below 2°C. As part of this, the UK is committed to reducing its emissions by 80% by 2050. 

 

The report derives from the SCCS 2015 conference and presents the UK’s unique set of assets and opportunities that can create a viable route to a zero-carbon economy.