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Carbon Capture and Storage

Energy and Climate Change – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 9th July 2009.

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Photo of Russell Brown Russell Brown Labour, Dumfries and Galloway 10:30 am, 9th July 2009

What recent representations he has received on the development of carbon capture and storage technology; and if he will make a statement.

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Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Since my statement to the House in April and our consultation document last June, we have had a wide range of representations on carbon capture and storage. There has been a warm welcome for the combination of the most environmentally ambitious conditions for new coal-fired power stations in the world, which we announced, and a plan, backed by legislation, for up to four CCS demonstration projects.

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Photo of Russell Brown Russell Brown Labour, Dumfries and Galloway

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Companies such as Scottish Power have a strong interest in CCS technology. Has he estimated how many green jobs and what likely investment there will be for the UK economy off the back of the technology, if it moves forward?

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Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

There is huge jobs potential. It is estimated that, in the round, there could be 30,000 to 60,000 jobs in carbon capture and sequestration by 2030. That is an indication of the scale of the potential, but that requires a certain funding stream for carbon capture and storage. We have managed to find a proposal to make that happen, and it will be in a fifth-Session Bill, subject to consultation. I hope that it will receive all-party support.

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Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Conservative, Hitchin and Harpenden

Can the Secretary of State confirm that the Minister in another place said during a debate on the carbon budgets—alas, we have not had that debate in this Chamber—that there was no realistic prospect of commercial carbon capture and storage before 2025 and that, therefore, when the Prime Minister offered the prospect of four such stations as a way of helping us out of the recession, he was either misleading the House or presupposing that the recession is going to go on for another decade and a half?

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Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

If I may say so, that was, uncharacteristically, a slightly confused question from the right hon. Gentleman. The truth is that we will be demonstrating carbon capture and storage, and we want to do so as soon as possible; that is why we are introducing the funding mechanism. There is a separate question about when it will be commercially deployable on a widespread basis in this country and around the world. The figures that I have seen suggest that that will be possible by 2020; obviously, opinions differ. However, the most important thing is to drive the technology forward as quickly as possible and I hope that he shares that aspiration.

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Photo of Jim Devine Jim Devine Labour, Livingston

Does my right hon. Friend know about a Scottish company called Elimpus, which is at the forefront of technology in identifying leaks in nuclear power plants and from pylon wires? Recognising that it is a worldwide company, will he agree to meet me and its representatives so that its technology can be applied in Scotland?

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Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

I am sure that the company to which my hon. Friend refers has equities in a range of areas, including carbon capture and storage. Subject to time being available, I am happy to meet him and its representatives.

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Photo of Charles Hendry Charles Hendry Shadow Minister (Energy and Climate Change)

Does the Secretary of State accept that as a result of the Government's delays and dithering, we are not leading the world in this technology, and that we are now behind the United States, Canada, Norway, Abu Dhabi, China and other countries? Does he understand that one third of our coal plant is closing in the next few years, but because of the Government's delays investment in new coal plant is on hold, as companies do not know what the CCS regime is? For nuclear, the Government set out a road map, with the Office for Nuclear Development and the Nuclear Development Forum. If that is good enough for nuclear, why have they not shown the same commitment to carbon capture, which could be at least as important for our future energy security and in meeting our low carbon commitments?

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Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

I wonder where the hon. Gentleman has been for the past three months, given that I made a statement to the House in April and set out a consultation document in June with the most environmentally ambitious standards for new coal-fired power stations and the most ambitious plans for the demonstration of carbon capture in coal-fired power stations. That will be taken forward with legislation going through this House. Unlike the Conservative proposals, ours are based not on funny money but on actual costed plans that will be implemented. I hope that the Conservatives will support them.

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Photo of Ronnie Campbell Ronnie Campbell Labour, Blyth Valley

The opponents of carbon capture recently said in an article that I read that if we get this up and running only 25 per cent. of carbon would be taken out of clean coal. Is that a true statement or is it just them playing games?

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Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

We should never underestimate the ability of such people to play games. On the facts, we have said that as a condition of building any new coal-fired power station, at least 25 per cent. of the plant will have to be based on carbon capture and storage. There is a simple reason for that. Because it will cost significant amounts of money to build CCS plants, we think it right to demonstrate capacity at that scale. When the technology is commercially proven, which we hope will happen by 2020—that is the basis on which we are planning—plants will have to be 100 per cent. CCS-based. That is the most environmentally ambitious set of conditions for new coal-fired power stations of any country in the world.

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