Government pours £6m into University of Sheffield’s CCS research centre

The UK Government has funnelled more than £6m into carbon capture and storage (CCS) research, with an additional £1.5m set to be generated from partner institutions to finance collaborative projects.

The UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre (UKCCSRC), led by the University of Sheffield, has secured a £6.1m funding grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) government agency to develop its research into CCS for a further five years.

UKCCSRC’s director professor Jon Gibbins said: “The continued investment in the centre demonstrates the importance of the technology going forward in the UK. Our centre benefits from the expertise of leading academics from Sheffield and the ten other partner institutions, as well as knowledge from industry and government.

“This new funding will allow us to build on the progress we have made and strengthen our research with new funding calls and support for early career researchers. This will help ensure that our industries and consumers are able to see the benefits of CCS in the 2020s.”

The Government has faced criticism over its handling of CCS projects since closing the £1bn competition fund in 2015. Specifically, critics have argued that the decision could cost the UK an additional £30bn to meet its 2050 carbon targets.

With the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) arguing that CCS is the most “cost-effective” way to meet national climate targets, the new funding allows the centre to deliver on core research programmes and provide financial backing for collaborative projects.

The centre acts as a virtual network for more than 40 UK universities and research institutes. Partner institutions including Imperial College London, UCL, the British Geological Survey and universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Cardiff, Cranfield, Strathclyde and Manchester will add an additional £1.5m to the funding pot.

More than 250 UK-based academics will benefit from the fund, which will strengthen research into maximising the contribution of CCS to the desired UK low-carbon energy system. The next phase of development at UKCCSRC is to ensure the CCS can reduce emissions through affordable and controllable energy supplies and low-carbon heat.

Energy 2050

Research into CCS forms an integral pillar of the University of Sheffield’s energy studies, which is underpinned by the Energy 2050 institute. Energy 2050 is one of the largest UK research institutes aimed at developing energy innovations, including the deployment of one of the largest and fastest energy storage facilities in the UK.

Energy 2050’s programme director Matthew Billson said: “All the major climate analysts agree that CCS is one of, if not the most, valuable technology in our fight against climate change. I am very pleased that the work of the UKCCSRC continues to be funded for another five years.”

UKCCSRC acts as the UK’s national centre for CCS research. The concept of using an inclusive national centre for CCS research has since been adopted by the Norwegian Government, which last week agreed to explore CCS with three global oil firms.

Norway’s climate secretary recently told edie that the two nations would have stronger low-carbon energy relations post-Brexit.

Matt Mace

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