UK Decarbonisation and Carbon Capture and Storage — [Mr Clive Betts in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 24th January 2017.

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Photo of Phil Boswell Phil Boswell Scottish National Party, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill 2:30 pm, 24th January 2017

I completely agree with the hon. Gentleman. There are signs that the Government will be considering that. I look to Peter Aldous and the Minister to confirm that they will consider that in their strategies. The hon. Member for Stockton North is absolutely right about investment in a key industry. When I was in the project in Peterhead, the technology was basic. We were capturing 90% of the carbon. With advances in technology, we will increase that, and with economies of scale and improved technologies, it will be cheaper. While the report understands the difficult balancing act that the Government face with public expenditure, the delay in bringing forward any plans to implement CCS in the UK while proceeding with fracking means we will not remain on the lowest-cost path to our statutory decarbonisation target.

What of forward planning? On 26 February 2016 in an interview in Utility Week, the chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, Matthew Bell stated:

“We’ve been very clear that, with the 2050 target in mind, it is much less expensive to meet if we’re able to develop successfully CCS. The government needs to come up with a very credible plan on how it’s going to push forward with CCS.”

Bell says that, without such a plan, that investment in the power sector, at least on the more conventional generation front, could suffer. Gas is being pushed by the Government as the bridging fuel in the transition towards a low-carbon economy, although no new combined-cycle gas turbine power stations have been built in the UK in the past six years.

Acknowledging what is widely expected to happen as coal-fired power stations leave the energy system, Bell said:

“Between now and the early 2030s, gas could have an increasing and significant role”.

He also said:

“However, from some point in the 2030s, if you’re going to hit the 80 per cent gas target and don’t have CCS, then gas has to be virtually off the system…That would imply that during the course of the 2030s gas has to play a declining role –
but there is a big ‘if’
there as that depends on CCS.”

Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.

On resuming—