Shadow Energy Minister calls for national CCS strategy

Shadow Energy Minister Alan Whitehead has renewed his calls for a national carbon capture and storage (CCS) strategy, following the Government's last-minute decision in November to axe a £1bn competition for CCS pilot projects.

An amendment to the energy bill calling on the Government to create such a strategy was voted down at the committee stage earlier this month. Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom told MPs a national strategy was “unnecessary” as Decc would release its own strategy “in due course”.

Whitehead told edie’s sister title Utility Week that he had concerns over what exactly that meant: “What we’ve got to go on is basically one minister’s suggestion that at some stage there might be something like a strategy… It hasn’t been defined as to how extensive it would be, what it would cover, what would be a requirement on government to bring it forward, in what timescale and with what content.

“That statement could be anything from half a page of guidelines as to how people might pick some of the pieces up from the failed pilot project to a decent route map of the way forward. We just don’t know.”

The Shadow Minister said the early signs didn’t look promising. “I’ve asked a number of parliamentary questions on the issue of what it is the department is actually doing at the moment on carbon capture and storage and the answers that came back looked very piecemeal indeed,” Whitehead added. “There really isn’t much joined up thinking going on at the moment.”

He said the country needs a proper national strategy to “gather together the disparate bits and pieces which are currently going on and point them in a coherent direction”. 

Carbon capture calls

Whitehead added that, without coherant strategy, the UK would struggle to meet its climate change targets. “Bodies like the Committee on Climate Change have made it very clear that carbon capture and storage is going to have be an essential part of Britain’s energy economy by the late 20s, early 30s, and at the moment there’s just an assumption that that will somehow happen,” he said. 

Whitehead’s comments echo recent calls by senior investors for more clarity on the future of CCS.

A spokeswoman for Decc said: “We haven’t closed the door to CCS technology in the UK, but as part of our ongoing work to get Britain’s finances back on track, we have had to take difficult decisions to control government spending.

“CCS should come down in cost and we are considering the role that it could play in the long-term decarbonisation of the UK.”

Tom Grimwood

This article first appeared in edie’s sister title, Utility Week

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