Chemical engineer helps to shape UK government climate change plans

Chemical engineer helps to shape UK government climate change plans

5th December 2018

The work of the Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS) Cost Challenge Taskforce, where chemical engineer Professor Geoffrey Maitland played a crucial role, has led to a new government action plan for mitigating climate change.  

The UK CCUS deployment pathway: an action plan, sets out how the UK will develop and roll-out CCUS technologies at scale, with ambitions to commission the UK’s first ever commercial CCUS facility by the mid-2020s. The plan was launched at the UK’s first international CCUS summit, which took place in Edinburgh last week.

Its launch is particularly timely, as this week leaders from around the globe will attend COP24 in Katowice, Poland to discuss how they are achieving the climate change targets outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Maitland, former President of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), was appointed by the UK’s Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Rt Hon. Claire Perry MP, to join the CCUS Cost Challenge Taskforce earlier this year. It published Delivering Clean Growth in July 2018, concluding that CCUS not only meets the requirements set out in the UK government’s Clean Growth Strategy for a technology which can future-proof the reduction of carbon emissions in the UK, but is essential if the UK is to meet its future carbon budgets

The report also recommended four areas for the UK government to consider:

  1. to recognise the CCUS opportunity and the urgency to act now to deliver it at scale;
  2. to recognise that CCUS can unlock value across the economy;
  3. to recognise that a viable business model is required; and
  4. to recognise that CCUS can already be deployed at a competitive cost.

Today, Maitland welcomed the latest action plan and urged government to support industry in enabling the cost-effective roll-out of CCUS at a commercial scale.

He said:

“This report is helping to readdress concerns that CCUS is simply a way to continue to use fossil fuels instead of renewables. Instead, the report explains how CCUS is a key part of decarbonising processes which produce and use energy, to the extent needed to meet the international 1.5-degree target.

“I’m also delighted that all the recommendations of the CCUS Cost Challenge Taskforce have been accepted through this action plan. These recommendations build on, and are entirely consistent with, A Chemical Engineering Perspective on the Challenges and Opportunities of Delivering Carbon Capture and Storage at Commercial Scale, produced in April by the IChemE Energy Centre.”

Alongside enabling the UK’s first CCUS industrial cluster facility, in its new action plan the government has committed to:

  • investing £20 million in a CCUS Demonstration programme; supporting construction of CCUS technologies at industrial sites across the UK, as part of a £45 million commitment to innovation;
  • investing up to £315 million in decarbonising industry, including the potential to use CCUS; and
  • beginning work with the Oil and Gas Authority, industry and the Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland to identify existing oil and gas infrastructure which could be transformed for CCUS projects.

Maitland also urged the government to consider requirements for industry in terms of shared infrastructure, to enable the rapid and cost-effective deployment of CCUS.

“It’s encouraging that the government have accepted that we need to start now in order to establish large-scale CCUS by the 2030s,” he said.

“I would like to see the government exercise less caution in terms of immediate cost reductions and provide some tax incentives for businesses to deploy CCUS technologies quickly whilst the cost of the technology is being brought down through learning by doing, rather than waiting to see if the technology becomes cheaper before going to multiple builds at large scale. We urgently need to take this forward if we want to achieve our climate change targets”.


CCUS Cost Challenge Taskforce -  Delivering Clean Growth

UK government action plan - The UK CCUS deployment pathway: an action plan

UK government report – Clean Growth Strategy

IChemE Energy Centre Report - A Chemical Engineering Perspective on the Challenges and Opportunities of Delivering Carbon Capture and Storage at Commercial Scale


For more information please contact:

Tara Wilson, Head of Communications, IChemE
t: +44 (0) 1788 534454

Rachael Fraser, PR and Communications Executive, IChemE
t: +44 (0) 1788 534435


With an international membership exceeding 40,000 in around 100 countries, the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) aims to be the organisation of choice for chemical engineers. It promotes competence and a commitment to best practice, advances the discipline for the benefit of society and supports the professional development of its members.

IChemE is the only organisation to award Chartered Chemical Engineer and Professional Process Safety Engineer status.