Carbon capture and storage: Ninth Report of Session 2013–14 House of Commons

This report from the Britain’s House of Commons makes the argument for CCS, which we want to emphasize here, is our primary objective.  We need to say to our world leaders that time has run out, in fact it may have run out 30 years ago and that CO2 sequestration might truly be our only hope. This report is very in depth and portions have been published below, but we urge you to read the report and comment to us.

The summary opens with a criticism of the UK’s failure to take this key program:

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has the potential to help keep carbon emissions within the limits that are needed to avoid dangerous global temperature rises. As such, it could be a game changer in efforts to tackle climate change, but high energy and financial costs currently make CCS uneconomic without specific policy interventions to support it. These are likely to be subsidies from the public purse and/or the consumer. As a result, progress on CCS has been extraordinarily slow with only a handful of projects in operation around
the globe and none fitted to power stations at full scale. In the UK the expected start date has been repeatedly pushed back from 2014 to potentially after 2020. This delay has called into question the credibility of Government CCS policy and has resulted in a lost decade for this vital fledgling industry.

The summary concludes:

To increase the chance that the first CCS project will be operational in the UK by 2020 the Government should aim to reach final investment decisions with the two projects left in its competition by 2015. Too much time has already been wasted by badly designed bureaucratic policies. CCS technology could be vital to keep climate change within 4 Carbon Capture and Storage manageable bounds, there is no further time to lose.

In the introduction, they build on previous publications:

In our 2013 report, The Impact of Shale Gas on Energy Markets, we highlighted our frustration at how long it was taking to develop CCS and establish whether it could play a meaningful role in the UK’s energy mix. We recommended that the Government needed to conclude its CCS competition as soon as possible and bring forward CCS demonstration projects to allow it to be deployed in time to contribute towards meeting UK carbon budgets.10 The Government responded saying that it had been “working at pace” to progress its competition. It argued the merits of the “detailed process” it had gone through which had “brought much value” by ensuring the projects that had been chosen would be deliverable and financeable and would provide good value for money for the UK tax payer. The Government suggested that final investment decisions (FID) would take place in early 2015, and that the projects were expected to be operational between 2016 and 2020.1

And they say that this is the only viable method, currently available on a large scale deployment:

CCS is the only large-scale mitigation option available to make deep reductions in the emissions from industrial sectors such as cement, iron and steel, chemicals and refining.16 A number of sectors (e.g. gas processing and ammonia production) already separate and capture CO2 as part of the industrial process. Other sectors, however, (e.g. cement, iron and steel) need to develop carbon capture technologies further before they can be deployed at a commercial scale.

Clearly the authors are as frustrated with their government as we are with ours, and the fossil fuel industry:

The expected start date of CCS has been pushed back from 2014 to potentially after 2020. Given the widespread acknowledgement of the importance of CCS to meeting future climate change targets this lost decade is extremely disappointing. While we take note of recent efforts by Government to work more closely with industry to accelerate CCS deployment, it is essential that the Government is able to commit to a realistic but ambitious timeline for taking final investment decisions. The rest of this report will look at what more the Government needs to do to accelerate CCS deployment and support a wider CCS industry.

Read the full report here


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