It is great news that the UK has decided to select two carbon capture & storage (CCS) projects in the government’s CCS Competition – the White Rose project based at Drax linked to a coal fired power station and the Peterhead project capturing CO2 emissions from gas power. Both these projects are tremendous proposals and will offer the UK significant benefits in major infrastructure investment, cost-competitive low-carbon electricity and much needed skilled jobs.
Crucially, the infrastructure provided by these projects will also enable industrial sectors such as steel, cement, chemicals and ammonia to fit CCS at low-cost. Considering many of these sectors have no other means of reducing emissions aside from CCS, the CCS infrastructure will be vital for them.
However, there is disappointment for the two other shortlisted CCS projects that were not selected at this stage – the Teesside Project and the Captain Clean Energy Project. These projects are now on a reserve list in case one of the selected projects not progress satisfactorily with a FEED study.
So what does this reserve list really mean? Well, there is now a 3 month period in which the selected projects have to sign their contracts to begin FEED studies. Once this 3 month period has passed, the reserve list will fall away. So Government now has a window of opportunity to send the right signals to the reserve list projects to ensure they are kept alive. This signal is the new energy supply contracts now being debated as part of the Energy Bill – and the sooner we get the Electricity Market Reforms right for CCS, the sooner we can start building a much larger number of projects.
CCS is a vital new technology for our future power supplies and heavy industries in the UK’s emerging low carbon economy. We urgently need to move ahead with as many projects as possible. But we need to start somewhere, and these two projects are a welcome lifeline to the development of CCS in the UK.