Government commits to CCUS plant ‘up and running from the mid-2020s’

The UK government today backed plans to have a CCUS – carbon capture usage and storage – plant up and running from the mid-2020s.

Funding for the Peterhead CCS project was withdrawn

The announcement was made at the International CCUS Summit taking place in Edinburgh, an event co-chaired by Claire Perry, UK minister for Clean Energy and Growth, and Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director.

Plans to kickstart CCUS in Britain include an investment of £20m to support the construction of CCUS technologies at industrial sites, and up to £315m to decarbonise industry, which will include the potential use of CCUS. Work will also be carried out with the Oil and Gas Authority, industry and the Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland to identify existing oil and gas infrastructure that could host CCUS projects.

“The UK is setting a world-leading ambition for developing and deploying carbon capture and storage technology to cut emissions,” said Perry. “The time is now to seize this challenge to tackle climate change while kick-starting an entirely new industry.”

Energy-intensive industries currently produce approximately 24 per cent of global emissions. IEA estimates over 450 Mt of CO2 emissions could be captured for use or storage each year with an incentive equivalent to less than $40 per tonne of CO2.

“Without CCUS as part of the solution, reaching our international climate goals is practically impossible,” said Dr Birol. “CCUS can also enhance energy security and boost economic prosperity.”

CCUS captures carbon from power stations and carbon-heavy industries such as cement, chemicals, steel, and oil refining and either uses it for industrial purposes like manufacturing concrete or stores it underground. The government said its overarching ambition is to roll out the technology at scale in the 2030s, subject to costs coming down sufficiently.

As part of its commitment to CCUS, government said it will invest £175,000 in Project Acorn in St Fergus, Scotland, which is developing ways of transporting carbon emissions from point of capture to storage. This will be matched by the Scottish government and includes EU funding.

Today’s declaration comes three-years after the government withdrew £1bn to fast-track carbon capture and storage in the UK.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Dr Jenifer Baxter, head of Engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “CCUS is a critical part of the future energy and industrial systems and the government is heading in the right direction with providing additional funding. However, the amounts are somewhat underwhelming and the translation into action in this sector is slow.

“The UK is well-placed to lead the world in the development of carbon capture and storage technologies, which are considered critical for decarbonising our whole energy system. Deployment of demonstration plants and low carbon industrial clusters should form a central part of our industrial strategy. The renewed focus on CCUS is welcome, but planning should be converted into action soon.”