CCS must be applied to industry, say businesses

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology must be applied to industry as well as power generation, according to businesses in north-east England.

More than 40 representatives of process industry companies from the north east met with MPs in Westminster on Tuesday to highlight the importance of government support for CCS technology if Britain is to meet its carbon-reduction goals without damaging the economy.

The group, organised by the North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC), argued that, without industrial CCS, businesses could be forced to take their operations to countries with less stringent CO2 targets, defeating the purpose of any regulations the UK might introduce.

NEPIC chief executive Stan Higgins told The Engineer that finding more uses for CO2 would help emission-heavy industries such as steel and chemical manufacturing to adopt CCS technology without losing money.

‘We must be sure that taxation is used appropriately to put in systems that encourage industry growth such as CCS and that some of the money goes to additional research into what we can do with the captured CO2, as well as enhanced oil recovery,’ he said.

UK industrial processes were responsible for 8.7 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases (net) in 2011, according to provisional figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Although this figure accounted for less than two per cent of the UK’s total emissions, Higgins argued that failing to include industry in plans to develop CCS would be damaging for the environment and the economy if those companies relocated offshore, creating ‘carbon leakage’.

‘You’ve got to think supply chains,’ he said. ‘Cars have a huge carbon footprint; white goods have a huge carbon footprint. It’s the steel and the process industries where that carbon is generated.

‘It’s no use having an advanced manufacturing industry if all the value is going offshore by having to import the raw materials such as steel and plastic.’

Higgins added that Teeside’s industrial area would be well placed to adopt CCS technology because it already had its own gas infrastructure, but it would require firm government commitment because it would be like building a new East Coast Main Line.