Energy network operators have welcomed a cross-party group of MPs’ calls for full government backing on carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS).

Commenting yesterday [25 April], after a report published by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committee called on ministers to give CCUS the “green light”, trade body Energy Networks Association (ENA) said the move was critical to “tackling our greatest decarbonisation challenges” and providing “a whole-systems approach”.

The committee’s report claims the technology has suffered from 15 years of “turbulent policy support” in Britain. It warns failing to deploy CCUS could double the costs of meeting the UK’s Climate Change Act 2008 obligations, leaving Britain unable to “credibly” adopt a net zero emissions target in line with the Paris Agreement.

Ministers should instead urgently consult on how the government could fund CCUS industry clusters, it says, recommending the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) conducts a cost-benefit analysis on how it could help decarbonise industrial emissions.

ENA chief executive David Smith said: “We strongly welcome the committee’s findings, especially the need for government to outline clear steps and targets to match its policy ambitions, prioritise the production of low-carbon hydrogen, and fast-track commercial scale CCUS projects from 2023.

“This technology is critical to tackling our greatest challenges including widespread deployment of low-carbon hydrogen to decarbonise heat and transport. A ‘whole systems’ approach to decarbonisation is needed, which facilitates hydrogen as well as smart hybrid systems and electrification.”

“Britain’s gas networks are at the forefront of projects which demonstrate the potential for hydrogen or hydrogen blends to be injected into the grid with minimal disruption to households and businesses,” added Smith. “ENA’s new Gas Pathways Decarbonisation project is building on this work to maximise progress on “greening the gas grid”.

The group is also working closely with government and regulators to address known barriers to hydrogen deployment, he said, and welcomes the committee’s recommendation to safely and quickly bring forward amendments to two gas management regulations.

Ed Syson, chief safety and strategy officer for Cadent, also welcomed the report as “incredibly helpful” as the company “makes the case for Merseyside to lead the UK in carbon capture technology”.

“Our HyNet plan, to introduce low-carbon gas hydrogen to our North West network, can only get the maximum benefit if we have a facility to store carbon – in this case in the gas fields off Liverpool Bay.

“A clear signal from government that it is prepared to back Merseyside as a UK pioneer for CCUS would unlock the potential for massive investment in the North West region, thousands of jobs and carbon savings equivalent to taking 600,000 cars off the road.”

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