BEIS wants major carbon capture project delivered by mid-2020s

The UK Government has today (28 November) unveiled plans to "make carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) technologies a reality", including an aim to bring the nation's first large-scale CCUS facility online by the mid-2020s.

Speaking at a summit of 50 international leaders in Edinburgh today, Energy Minister Claire Perry announced that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will dedicate £20m of the nation’s industry innovation budget to the development of the technology.

Using this investment, the department will work with the Oil and Gas Authority, Crown Estate, Crown Estate Scotland and CCUS industry to identify existing oil and gas infrastructure which could be transformed into carbon-capturing facilities, Perry said.

These moves will enable BEIS to publish a plan outlining how it will develop the UK’s first CCUS facility by the end of 2019, setting it up to bring the project online by the mid-2020s. 

“Today at this seminal summit, the UK is setting a world-leading ambition for developing and deploying carbon capture and storage technology to cut emissions,” Perry said.

“The fact that representatives from across the globe are gathered here today in Edinburgh shows how determined all countries are to unlock the potential of this game-changing technology. The time is now to seize this challenge to tackle climate change while kick-starting an entirely new industry.”

In addition to the CCUS roadmap, BEIS has announced that it will invest £175,000 in Project Acorn in St Fergus, Scotland, to develop ways of transporting carbon emissions from where they are captured to storage. This funding will be matched by the Scottish government.

Carbon-negative futures

The moves from BEIS come after the department was urged in July to implement plans that would have the UK’s first CCUS plant up and running by the mid-2020s, in a stark warning from the CCS taskforce.

The taskforce criticised ministers for closing the £1bn competition fund for CCS in 2015, citing claims that the decision could cost the UK an additional £30bn if it is to meet its 2050 carbon targets.

Similarly, the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has claimed that CCS is the most cost-effective way for the UK to meet climate change targets and needs to be deployed sooner rather than later. The organisation estimates that bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) could deliver roughly 55 million tonnes of net negative emissions a year in the UK – approximately half the nation’s emissions target – by the 2050s.

More widely, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) landmark report on climate change recently concluded that the world would be “unlikely” to limit warming below 1.5C – beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people – without CCUS.

Responding to Perry’s announcement today, the Carbon Capture and Storage Association’s chief executive Luke Warren said BEIS’s roadmap marked an “essential step forward” for a “vital industry”.

“If we are to have any hope of meeting our existing climate change targets, let alone achieving net zero emissions, we must support the commercialisation of CCUS today,” Warren said.

“The Government has today stepped up and shown global leadership by committing to this ambitious and deliverable action plan. We look forward to working with Government over the next year on how to deliver a number of regional CCUS clusters that will be needed to achieve commercial-scale deployment.”

Sarah George  

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