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Meeting carbon commitments “challenging” without CCS

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World Coal,

It will be “challenging” to meet the UK’s climate change commitments with carbon capture and storage (CCS), according to a new parliamentary report into the future of CCS in the UK.

“Without CCS it may be necessary to find large and potentially more expensive carbon savings to meet the legally binding targets set out in the Climate Change Act, as well as more recent challenging ambitions set out at the Paris climate summit,” the report from the Energy and Climate Change Committee said.

Funding for the UK’s CCS commercialisation competition was unexpectedly withdrawn last November just weeks before the final bids were due to be submitted to much criticism from industry groups and investors. “Pulling the plug on the competition without warning in this way was damaging both to the relationship between government and the industry and to investment in the UK,” the committee report concluded.

The report also calls for the UK government to “promptly devise a new strategy for CCS,” noting that, without such a framework, knowledge, investment, assets and expertise would be lost.

Dr Luke Warren, CEO of the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA) CEO, welcomed the committee’s report, adding that the CCSA “look forward to working with the government to deliver a successful CCS strategy that can ensure the decarbonisation of the UK’s power sector at least cost.”

In response, a Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) spokesperson said tin an emailed statement that the government hadn’t “closed the door to CCS technology in the UK”, but defended the decision to pull funding last year.

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

But the government’s economic argument came under fire from Prof. Stuart Hazeldine, Director of Scottish CCS. According to Prof. Hazeldine figures used by the government were misleading because they included the cost of infrastructure – costs that would only apply to “first-phase projects”.

“We have argued, along with others, that CO2 capture should therefore be unbuckled from the infrastructure to give a more accurate reflection of cost,” Hazeldine said.

“On 8 February, the UK opened its Shetland gas terminal, one of the largest hydrocarbon production sites in northwest Europe, until at least 2045. Government also intends to build ten new gas-fuelled power plants. It is simply not possible to continue to exploit fossil fuels in this way unless CCS is part of the equation,” Hazeldine concluded.

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