The UK could have its first project to capture and store carbon emissions from power or industrial plants by the mid-2020s, under new Government plans.
An action plan will help develop the UK’s first scheme to capture emissions from power stations and heavy industry and use the carbon dioxide for processes such as making concrete or store it underground to cut climate pollution, ministers have announced.
The first project could be up and running as early as the mid-2020s, with an overarching ambition to roll out the technology at scale by the 2030s, if costs can be brought down.
Experts have said that carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) is key to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to tackle climate change, particularly from industrial processes where other options are limited.
The Government’s Advisory Committee on Climate Change has called for the development of CCUS, warning it would be “highly challenging” and much more expensive for the UK’s legal target to cut emissions by 80% by 2050 without it.
But ministers axed a £1 billion four-year competition to develop carbon capture and storage on power stations in late 2015, citing the cost of the technology.
The new action plan commits the Government to setting out next year how to develop the UK’s first CCUS facility, and invest £20 million in supporting construction of technology at industrial sites across the UK as part of a £45 million commitment to innovation.
It will also mean £315 million investment in cutting carbon emissions from industrial sites, including the potential to use CCUS.
And work will begin with the Oil and Gas Authority, industry and the Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland to identify existing oil and gas infrastructure which could be transformed for CCUS projects.
The announcement comes at a world-first summit on the technology in Edinburgh, jointly hosted by the UK with the International Energy Agency, and attended by political and business leaders from around the world.
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said: “Today, at this seminal summit, the UK is setting a world-leading ambition for developing and deploying carbon capture and storage technology to cut emissions.
“The time is now to seize this challenge to tackle climate change while kick starting an entirely new industry.”
Dr Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, said: “Without CCUS as part of the solution, reaching our international climate goals is practically impossible.
“CCUS can also enhance energy security and boost economic prosperity. Yet, up until now, progress has been muted and if this continues the challenges we face in the energy sector will become infinitely greater.
“That is why the IEA is bringing together industry, governments and our own technology network – as well as the investment community – to make CCUS a reality.
The announcement comes after Drax power station in North Yorkshire has begun a pilot project with Leeds-based C-Capture to capture carbon from its biomass energy plant, which burns wood pellets to create electricity.