Whatever happens, this cannot be the end for carbon capture in the UK
This week saw the UK’s darkest day so far for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). At the CCSA, we and our members in the industry are still in shock. The same words keep repeating themselves; devastated, sad, bewildered. The question; Why? And why now? Amazingly, two days on the silence from Government is deafening. Only the two-line statement to the London Stock Exchange can be found.
If we are to try and make sense of it all, the only thing that comes to mind is that the Government still refuse to believe the importance of CCS.
This is incredible when you look at the overwhelming body of evidence that has been published over the last ten years; globally, the IPCC have concluded that without CCS, the cost of meeting climate change goals could increase by 138%. In Europe, a recent ZEP report found that Europe would have to spend an additional €1.2 trillion to reduce emissions if CCS isn’t available. And in the UK the Committee on Climate Change – the independent advisory body to the UK Government – has repeatedly shown that CCS can halve the cost of meeting UK climate change targets.
But there is a bigger picture here. Whether or not you believe that climate change is real and we need to do something about it, CCS is without any shred of doubt an indispensable technology for a large part of the UK’s economy. If we are to maintain fossil fuels in our electricity mix, CCS is crucial.
The sustainable future of our energy intensive industries is inextricably linked to CCS – without it, these sectors have no other decarbonisation option. The combination of CCS and biomass is currently the only available option for achieving negative emissions – this will become increasingly important over the next few decades.
CCS could create 15,000-30,000 jobs in the UK by 2030, delivering a market worth up to £35 billion. 160,000 direct jobs in energy intensive industries would be safeguarded. And finally – and this is perhaps the one argument which should make the Government sit up and listen – CCS could shave £82 off the cost of the average household energy bill per year by 2030.
This week, the Committee on Climate Change published their Fifth Carbon Budget. At the launch, Lord Deben said clearly:
“CCS is a major part of our central forecasts. If you want to have gas in the long term, CCS is essential. Without it, costs are likely to rise”.
Meeting the Fifth Carbon Budget out to 2032 does not depend on CCS – but it makes it damn hard if CCS isn’t available.
We must now move forward and call on the Government to urgently set out how they plan to deliver CCS. There is one positive from yesterday – the overwhelming show of support for CCS and disappointment at the decision is truly heartening. The Government must now pick up the pieces and ensure that some value is retained from the CCS competition as they decide on the way forward.
Whatever happens, this cannot be the end for CCS in the UK.