26 November 2015

UK government cuts to CCS spending is false economy

CCS

The Institution of Chemical Engineers' (IChemE) Energy Centre has raised serious concerns over cuts to Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) funding in the UK.

The news that the budget for the CCS Competition, which was previously ring fenced, has been removed in the UK government’s Spending Review is described as “extremely bad news for the UK and its ability to decarbonise its energy system” by the Energy Centre Board.

The UK will continue to rely on fossil fuels to meet consumer demand for many decades and this must be done whilst simultaneously reducing CO2 emissions.

The centre acknowledges that developing CCS is a high risk venture owing to large, upfront costs. However, it believes that the decision to cut the funding for a competition to establish CCS technology represents a false economy.

A rapid increase in gas-fired power station will reduce carbon emissions by up to 50 per cent, but CCS technology is still required to meet emission targets.
 
IChemE past president and Vice-chair of the Energy Centre Board, Professor Geoff Maitland, said: “The news that the CCS budget has been axed is disappointing, particularly as there are only a few days until governments meet in Paris for the COP21 climate talks to agree global targets and initiatives to try and prevent catastrophic climate change.

“Despite moving as quickly as possible to renewable energy and nuclear, we will continue to use fossil fuels to meet base load demand and keep the lights on for decades to come. Without CCS for both coal and gas-fired power stations, we will fail to meet UK carbon emissions targets.

“Several studies show that CCS is the cheapest route to decarbonising our base load electricity system in the short term. However, the cost goes up rapidly the longer we delay and cutting funding to CCS commercialisation is false economy. This decision jeopardises the economic potential of an industry that could be worth over £30 billion by 2030.”

Energy Centre Board Chair, Professor Stefaan Simons, added: “All credible roadmaps to a low carbon economy show CCS playing a leading role in decarbonising electricity production. Even if we move away from coal as a primary energy source, we will still be reliant on gas for years to come – as stated by the Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change only last week.

“CCS is the only option for removing carbon dioxide emissions from gas-fired power stations. Cutting support for wind, solar, bioenergy and now CCS, in pursuit of nuclear at any cost, will not provide the UK with a sustainable energy system.”

The IChemE Energy Centre will continue to make the case for CCS as a key element of the UK’s emission reduction strategy.

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IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).