A cross-party group of MPs has urged the government to give its full backing to carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS).
A report published by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committee calls on ministers to give the “green light” to CCUS, which it claims has suffered from 15 years of “turbulent policy support” in Britain.
It also warns that failing to deploy CCUS could double the costs of meeting the UK’s targets under the Climate Change Act 2008 and that Britain could not “credibly” adopt a “net zero emissions” target in line with the Paris Agreement.
Instead, it argues ministers should urgently consult on how the government could fund CCUS industry clusters and it recommends the National Infrastructure Commission conduct a cost benefit analysis on how it could help decarbonise industrial emissions.
The select committee’s calls follows a recent report in The Times newspaper that oil giant Shell has called for CCUS projects to be given public subsidies in a similar way to renewable energy.
In February, Drax announced the first carbon dioxide had been captured at its North Yorkshire power station, as part of a bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) pilot.
And in March, a new industry group was formed to advise government on the development of CCUS.
The body will provide evidence-backed recommendations on the cost structures, risk-sharing arrangements and market mechanisms that will be necessary to meet the goal of deploying the first CCUS project in the UK by the mid-2020s.
“The current energy minister has been a champion for CCUS, and there have been some encouraging recent developments, but the CCUS industry has been the victim of years of turbulent policy support and suffered a series of false dawns,” said Labour MP and select committee member, Anna Turley.
“The government now needs to give the ‘green light’ to CCUS and ensure that we seize the domestic growth and jobs opportunities of this modern, green industry.”
Responding to the report, the chief executive of the Carbon Capture Storage Association, Dr Luke Warren, said: “Just a few days before the Committee on Climate Change submit their advice to government on long term climate change targets, this is exactly the sort of ambition that is needed.
“CCUS is not ‘an option’, it is a ‘must have’ if we are to have any hope of achieving net zero emissions by the middle of the century.”
And the chief executive of Drax Group, Will Gardiner, commented: “Supporting the development of the CCUS industry in the UK will generate jobs and economic growth here whilst creating new export opportunities, helping other countries to make the progress needed to meet global climate targets.
“Drax’s BECCS pilot plant has proven that the innovative carbon capture technology we’re using could be scaled up to create the world’s first negative emissions power station, helping to remove the gases that cause global warming from the atmosphere at the same time as electricity is produced.”
Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK added: “As our Future of Energy report published on Tuesday (23 April) makes clear, establishing carbon capture utilisation and storage at scale is essential if we are to meet our climate change targets, so we fully back the BEIS select committee’s call on the government.
”Energy UK is a member of the CCUS Council and our members are already deploying pilot schemes. But while there is growing recognition from government of the importance of CCUS, a full commitment is necessary to bring forward the substantial and long-term investment that will enable it – and allow CCUS to play a crucial role in the future energy system.
“Carbon capture will be critical in decarbonising sectors where there are few cost-effective alternatives, such as industrial processes, shipping, haulage and heating. And, as we’ve seen with renewables like offshore wind, becoming a world leader in new technologies can bring economic benefits to the UK through jobs, investment and exports – at the same time as innovation and growing expertise drive down costs.”