Delayed Uptake of CCS will Increase Costs by £1-2bn a Year

           Carbon and Climate

Delaying the uptake of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) will increase the cost of meeting the UK’s 2050 carbon target by an estimated £1-2bn per year throughout the 2020s. This is the conclusion of recent research by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) which argues that, without CCS, other more expensive solutions will need to be utilised. CCS is a three-stage technology whereby CO2 is captured from emission sources, transported via a network of pipelines, and stored in deep subsurface geological formations. The capture process can potentially remove 90% of the CO2 emitted by fossil fuelled processes. While CCS has the potential for use in multiple operations, ETI recommends that the initial focus should be on the power sector so that flexible low carbon generation can be provided. The study finds that there are enough potential storage sites to meet the UK’s needs out to 2050, with the east coast of England highlighted as a prime location. ETI argues that CCS technologies are ready to use and that the barrier to development is a commercial one. Although operating CCS at scale will reduce costs, public sector commitment is needed to encourage private sector investment. The government cancelled a CCS competition in 2015, delivering a blow to the industry.

ETI sees CCS as a business opportunity for the UK, as well as being a tool to meet decarbonisation targets. Significant developments in CCS have been made across the Middle East, Asia, and the United States as can be seen in an interactive map of large-scale CCS projects, provided by the global CCS institute. The part that CCS has to play in addressing climate change has recently been acknowledged by Schroders, an asset management company, which has launched a climate progress dashboard. The tool uses 12 indicators to track developments in decarbonisation and assesses their impact on predicted temperature rises. One of the factors the model considers is the uptake of CCS, comparing the levels that the IEA estimates will be needed in the future, to meet climate targets, against the capacity that is in place or likely to be developed. Schroders issued a warning earlier this month that global temperatures are set to rise faster than expected, which could put global investments at risk.

Nikki Wilson

Nikki joined Alfa Energy in September 2015 as a Carbon Management Consultant where she advises clients on legislation, compliance, and the implementation of carbon management schemes. She is a Practitioner member of IEMA, has a postgraduate diploma in Environmental Decision Making, and has over 15 years’ experience in energy consultancy.