BEIS calls for evidence on using CCS to hit 2050 emissions targets
The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has launched an inquiry into the role carbon capture and storage (CCS) will play in helping the UK meet its 2050 goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80%, against a 1990 baseline.
The month-long inquiry will examine the Government’s commitment to deploying CCS technology and ask whether it has a backup plan to meeting the country’s fourth and fifth carbon budgets if CCS does not deliver the desired cost reductions.
CCS plays an important part in the Government’s Clean Growth plan, which sets carbon reduction targets that rely on the technology being “deployed at scale during the 2030s, subject to costs coming down sufficiently”.
However, The Government has faced criticism over its handling of CCS projects since closing the £1bn competition fund in 2015, with critics claiming that the decision could cost the UK an additional £30bn if it is to meet its 2050 carbon targets.
“CCS is expected to play an essential part in meeting the UK’s carbon budgets; yet the Government’s budget to kick-start CCS has been cut from £1bn to £100m,” BEIS chair Rachel Reeves MP said. “In this inquiry, we want to test the Government’s ambitions in this area and to examine what policy levers need to be pulled to make large-scale CCS a reality in the future.”
Reeves added that clearer policy signals are needed to commercialise CCS technology in the 2030s, and that the Government should set out its proposed alternatives in the event of this not happening. Specifically, the inquiry will call on Ministers to define what a realistic level of cost reduction is, and when it should be aimed for.
CCS is the most cost-effective way of meeting climate change targets and needs to be deployed sooner rather than later, according to the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI). The organisation has previously highlighted that the UK has "more than enough" potential CCS sites to meet legally binding 2050 carbon targets in a cost-effective manner, which apparently could save up to £2bn annually throughout the 2020s. The ETI additionally 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.
A second chance for CCS
In related news, Energy group Drax has this month announced that it will lead the first BECCS project in Europe during a trial of new technology at its north Yorkshire power station.
The £400,000 trial, which Drax said “could be the first of several”, could make the renewable electricity produced at the UK’s largest power station carbon-negative if it is successful. It is being jointly funded and undertaken by C-Capture - a spin-out from the University of Leeds, and is set to be a "rapid, low cost demonstration of BECCS", Drax said in a statement.