Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) should remain a key option in the UK’s future low carbon energy system and could present a considerable economic opportunity, according to the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).
The value of CCS comes from its potential for use in multiple operations – power generation, the capture of industrial emissions, through the gasification of various feedstocks providing new low carbon energy supplies and delivering “negative emissions” when used in combination with Bioenergy (BECCS).
Achieving the UK’s legally binding 2050 carbon targets without deploying any CCS is very likely to result in substantially higher costs. Based on ETIsystems modelling delaying its implementation adds an estimated £1-2bn a year throughout the 2020s to the otherwise lowest cost options for reducing carbon emissions.
The ETI’s findings are based on 10 years of analysis and technology development carried out in CCS.
ETI believes existing, proven technologies, developed from a mature technology base should be used to capture CO2, to move the industry forward today. There is significant storage capacity off the UK coast with no technical barriers to its use. Again from its detailed analysis of UKstorage potential the ETI believes no more than six shoreline hubs and 20 offshore stores are needed to deploy CCS effectively in the UK.
Initial infrastructure development incurs high cost, but when viewed as an energy systems wide component in a low carbon transition CCS can bring long term benefit to the UK and potential investors. Public and private sectors need to take on board the risks that they are best placed to manage and long term commitments are needed from both sides.
For the industry to progress it has to develop a first commercial CCS plant in the UK. The key to reducing the cost of CCS in the short to medium term is by delivering a small number of large plants sequentially, not further innovation from technology focused research and development activity.
BECCS should also be a component of any UK CCS strategy and its deployment advanced as it can deliver negative emissions (the net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere) whilst also producing energy – electricity, heat, liquid & gaseous fuels.
There are also no “show stopping” technical barriers to BECCS and the UKis well placed to exploit the benefits if the components of BECCS are deployed. But it is unlikely to be implemented unless CCS infrastructure is first developed by large scale power with CCS projects.
Andrew Green Programme Manager said: "CCS is critical to decarbonising the UK power, heat and transport sectors, through providing reliable, low carbon electricity generation and the cost-effective production of hydrogen.
"Although critics have claimed it is expensive our analysis has shown that the costs and risks to the UK’s decarbonisation pathway could actually be reduced by bringing forward, rather than delaying, the deployment of CCS. This makes the economic prize of CCS to the UK potentially considerable.
"Early commitment by private sector investors will need similar commitments from the public sector to make investments attractive – therefore long term policy commitment from government is more important than early funding.
"The key to early cost reduction for CCS is through the deployment of investable projects rather than creating new capture technology platforms. The challenge CCS presently faces is a commercial one not a technical one.
"Today’s capture technology is from a mature technology base and further improvements are expected in cost and performance. This can move the industry forward today. Deeper technology improvements will not be as impactful as reducing costs by deployment. It is about making it work, and work at a scale which enables cost reductions.
"Developing lower cost, more efficient technologies remains important for the future, but the commercial deployment ofCCS must not be delayed to wait for such developments."
During 2017 the ETI will be releasing technical data and reports from projects delivered across its technology programmes over the last 10 years. It has just released over 100 documents on its website from its CCStechnology programme on the analysis it has undertaken to date in this area to help inform the debate on CCS in the UK.