Scientists and engineers from China and the United Kingdom have formed a groundbreaking initiative that will pave the way for the research, development and demonstration of innovative carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technologies.

The UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre (UKCCSRC), Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (SCCS), Guangdong Low-carbon Technology and Industry Research Centre (GDLRC) and the Clean Fossil Energy Development Institute (CFEDI) signed the ten-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) today at Lancaster House, in London, witnessed by Governor Zhu Xiaodan of Guangdong Province, People’s Republic of China, and Minister Greg Barker of the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). 

The agreement will lead to the establishment of an international CCUS network, which will promote joint research and development, provide advice for local and regional governments and develop ways to exchange knowledge. The partners plan to move rapidly towards demonstration of CCUS technologies in China, potentially within three to five years.

Minister Barker and Governor Xiaodan also concurrently signed a joint statement pledging a collaboration on low carbon development, including CCS technology, between the UK and China.

The agreements come in the same week as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a further report, which makes a clear link between human activities, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

CCUS refers to a range of technologies that could significantly reduce carbon emissions worldwide. CO2 from power plants and industrial facilities can be captured and transported to underground storage sites where it can be geologically stored safely for millennia, thereby reducing emissions into the atmosphere. The CO2 can also be used for enhanced oil recovery or locked up in stable materials.  A commercial-scale CCUS industry will also create jobs and revenue, while retaining the existing workforce in the fossil fuel power sector.

“The UK has well-established research and development capacity in CCS, and by linking up with China we can further advance and promote the commercialisation of this important climate change mitigation technology,” said UKCCSRC Director, Professor Jon Gibbins. “Climate change is a global problem that requires global collaboration, and this initiative will help build stronger relationships.”

“Preparation for CCS is now in China’s Five Year Plan, so Guangdong is preparing to surpass all European efforts with one leap.  This strategic and timely agreement will unite researchers from Scotland, the UK and China in the shared ambition of making swift and practical progress on CCS technologies. Guangdong is a leading province for industrial innovation in China. This MoU enables UK researchers and Chinese industry to exchange staff and expertise, so that decisions can be made in mid 2014 to commence construction,” said Professor Stuart Haszeldine, SCCS Director, and Professor of Carbon Capture and Storage at the University of Edinburgh

“Greenhouse gas and particulate pollution from power generation and other stationary emission sources are a major contributing factor to our rapidly deteriorating global environment that affects us now and for future generations,” said Michael Lam, CFEDI Board Chair.  I hope that with the support of the Guangdong Province and our partners here in the UK, CFEDI can make a major difference in promoting clean and low carbon energy in China and the rest of the World.”

The MoU builds on more than five years of joint CCUS activities between Guangdong and the UK, supported by the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office, DECC and Research Councils UK. The MoU signatories have agreed to advise and support the Guangdong International CCUS Industry and Academic Collaboration Promotion Network (GDICCUS), which will promote CCUS research collaboration and technology industrialisation in the Guangdong Province of China.