Fitting carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology could slash global power emi ...

Fitting carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology could slash global power emissions by 28% by 2050, but timidity and policy incoherence is holding back its large-scale deployment in the UK, according to a new report Is Britain ready for Carbon Capture?’ from Policy Exchange, a leading thank tank. According to the authors of the report, led by Professor Stuart Haszeldine of the University of Edinburgh, confusion over government policy and timescales means that the number of proposed CCS projects in the UK has halved in the past year. The ten projects proposed in 2006/2007 would have cut UK base load power emissions by 20% with the first going online in 2009. The loss of the proposed CCS plant at Petershead has deprived the Treasury of £1bn in oil revenues, the authors estimate, as the carbon recovered would have been stored in depleted oil reserves, thereby improving oil recovery. As Tara Singh, Head of the Environment Unit at Policy Exchange and one of the report’s authors, explains: ‘The government’s timetable for the first CCS plant has slipped from 2009 to 2014. It is a single, small station. As a result, demand in the CCS industry has contracted. Britain could have taken an environmental lead by having a CCS plant operating as soon as next year at Petershead, but the government’s failure to put in place a creative funding package means that the plant will now be built in Abu Dhabi.’ The report examines why Petershead collapsed and questions the capacity for the three new gas-fired plants which received approval last year to be built ‘capture ready’ (ie able to have the CCS technology strapped on) when the government has failed to specify what capture, transport and storage facilities would need to be retrofitted to such a plant. Later this April, the government will decide whether to approve the UK’s first new coal station for 24 years, with a possible seven more coal-fired stations down the line - but they will not be able to retrofit CCS based on current government policies, the authors of the report insist. Singh comments: ‘The government is failing to encourage the development of a CCS industry in the UK. It is also failing to enable power stations to be ready for CCS once it is developed abroad. The government must make it mandatory that any new power plants of a significant size are capture ready. The government must also set a strong and secure definition for when a capture ready plant must be deploying CCS.’

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