UK will rue cost of missed carbon-capture opportunity, warns Scots expert

emissionsThe UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has told UK Energy Minister Amber Rudd that the cost of meeting the 2050 de-carbonisation target will be twice as high without a carbon-capture and storage programme.

The CCC letter points out that their proposed budget to 2032 is a minimum, and suggests that government must be prepared to do more, not less, in order to reduce total UK domestic carbon emissions in line with the Paris agreement objectives.

The committee also notes that increased decarbonisation ambition will be needed by the European Union. In short, we need to make more reductions. For that, CCS is essential and an urgent plan is needed for a minimum of 7GW clean power by 2030, and support for industry decarbonisation.

The CCC also appears to bear out what expert witnesses told MPs on the Energy Committee – that the first CCS projects will deliver at a strike price of £170 / MW hr but then drop to £110/MW hr.

The CCC letter makes clear that rapid delivery of CCS is part of the least-cost package of techniques and technologies to achieve UK carbon budgets. And that failure to deliver CCS will have wide and costly consequences across the UK economy. To achieve that, the UK needs at least two CCS projects operating by 2020, and a development of five more following on from those.

Professor Stuart Haszeldine, Director of Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage, commented: “To stay on track in the ‘high ambition coalition’ of leading nations agreed in Paris climate talks, the UK needs to do a lot more on UK electricity, and a lot more on UK low-carbon industry and low-carbon heat. But now this government is doing a lot less.

“There is no sign yet that facts, unbiased scientific evidence and rationality are regarded as more important than lobbying by corporations and colleagues wishing to take the UK back to the 1960s energy mix. It’s a choice between spending £40 per household in 2016 or spending £200 per household each year from 2050. We can afford it.”

“Through delaying CCS development for at least 10 years, the UK will fail to demonstrate the commercial-scale operation of CCS on gas power plant and, additionally, will fail to demonstrate the collaboration of different types of companies in the UK’s uniquely disaggregated electricity market.

“It will also fail to build the first geographic centres of pipeline infrastructure essential to transport CO2, and will fail to demonstrate the secure integrity of UK geological storage of CO2.

“This means that, even if the UK attempts a future “buy in” of CCS capture equipment from the US, China or Canada, there will be many years of recovery time, rebuilding and re-skilling of people and infrastructure, which are right now being lost through decommissioning of the North Sea offshore industries.”

Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage (SCCS), founded in 2005, is an independent academic and applied research partnership of British Geological Survey, Heriot-Watt University, University of Aberdeen, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Strathclyde. Its researchers are engaged in high-level CCS research as well as joint projects with industry to support the development and commercialisation of CCS as a climate mitigation technology.

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