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

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 2:47 pm on 24th January 2017.

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Photo of Phil Boswell Phil Boswell Scottish National Party, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill 2:47 pm, 24th January 2017

Thank you, Mr Betts. I will continue with my quotation from Matthew Bell:

“We have a 15 to 20-year time horizon with reasonable certainty for the role of gas, then we have an uncertain period—is that enough for investors to decide to go ahead with their projects? There is a way of clarifying that uncertainty, and that is for the government to be clear on CCS.”

There is a consensus from watchdogs and experts alike. They agree that the Government have the opportunity to get this right. Getting it right, including carbon capture and storage, will be more economical for the UK in achieving our climate change targets, while simultaneously creating CCS as a leading, technologically advanced industry within the UK.

What of the costs of meeting our climate change commitments without CCS? The National Audit Office’s report of 20 January 2017, “Carbon capture and storage: the second competition for government support”, found that carbon capture and storage “formed an important part” of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The report goes on to state:

“Given its potential to decarbonise different sectors, many stakeholders still regard CCS as being critically important to the UK achieving its decarbonisation target. It is currently inconceivable that CCS projects will be developed without government support.”

That support would enable investment in CCS, creating a large-scale demonstration of CCS technical and commercial viability, and leading to further-improved CCS schemes in the UK and the development of CCS as a successful industry. Although the report is constrained by the very specific NAO brief, which was to assess how the Department ran the second competition before its cancellation, it is none the less unequivocal in its support for CCS as the least-cost route to decarbonisation.

What of the most detailed report focused on the determination of whether CCS offers the solution of lowest-cost decarbonisation? I am referring to “Lowest Cost Decarbonisation for the UK: The Critical Role of CCS”, which is cited as Oxburgh 2016, a report from the parliamentary advisory group on carbon capture and storage to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The report was requested by the then Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd. Its terms of reference were to assess the potential contribution of CCS to cost-effective UK decarbonisation and to recommend accordingly to the Secretary of State by the end of summer 2016.

The report was delivered by Lord Oxburgh and his team in September 2016. The group comprised some of the most qualified and experienced representatives of politics, industry and academia. They did not carry out primary research but instead, given the substantial volume of work already published on the subject, focused on synthesising experience and knowledge into an optimum recommendation. They also considered walking away from CCS as an option.

The report found six core recommendations that are worth repeating in full:

“1. Establish a CCS Delivery Company…A newly formed and initially state-owned company tasked with delivering full-chain CCS for power at strategic hubs around the UK at or below £85/MWh on a baseload CfD equivalent basis. Formed of two linked but separately regulated companies: ‘PowerCo
to deliver the power stations and ‘T&SCo’
to deliver the transport and storage infrastructure, the CCSDC will need c.£200-300m of funding over the coming 4-5 years.

2. Establish a system of economic regulation for CCS in the UK…The government will establish a system of economic regulation for CCS in the UK which is based on a regulated return approach. This will draw heavily on existing regulatory structures in the energy system and hence include: a CCS Power Contract based on the existing CfD or capacity contract to incentivise CCS for power…3. Incentivise industrial CCS through Industrial Capture Contracts…The Industrial Capture Contract, will be funded by the UK government and will remunerate industry for capture and storage of their CO2. It will be a regulated contract which will have a higher price in the early period in order to deliver capital repayment in a timescale consistent with industry horizons…
4. Establish a Heat Transformation Group…The Heat Transformation Group will assess the least cost route to the decarbonisation of heat in the UK (comparing electricity and hydrogen) and complete the work needed to assess the chosen approach in detail. The HTG has a likely funding need of £70-90m.

5. Establish a CCS Certificate System”— this is completely self-explanatory—

“Government will implement a CCS Certificate System for the certification of captured and stored CO2.

6. Establish a CCS Obligation System…Government will also implement a CCS Obligation from the late 2020s as a means of giving a long-term trajectory to the fossil fuel and CCS industries. This will put an obligation on fossil fuel suppliers to the UK to sequester a growing percentage of the CO2 associated with that supply.”

Climate change bodies, politicians and industry alike almost all agree that CCS is the optimum low-cost option for decarbonising the UK, but it is generally accepted that only Government intervention will stimulate it in the UK. I therefore ask the Minister please to consider carefully carbon capture and storage as part of the Government’s new, hands-on, interventionist industrial strategy for Britain.

What is the way forward? The way to a greener industrial future and lowest-cost decarbonisation for the UK without doubt includes carbon capture and storage. The proven technology continues to improve and we should not be frightened to embrace the new technologies that continue to spring up around CCS, such as Toshiba’s new 25-MW-gross electric turbine, the headline for which reads:

“Toshiba Ships Turbine for World’s First Direct-Fired Supercritical Oxy-Combustion CO2 Power Cycle Demonstration Plant to U.S.”

That supercritical CO2 power-cycle system achieves the same level of generating efficiency as a combined-cycle power plant. It separates and collects CO2 at high pressure, eliminating the need for separate carbon capture equipment or processes, and secures full CO2 capture—I repeat: full CO2 capture—without any increase in the cost of electricity, using supercritical CO2 as a working fluid to generate low-cost electricity while eliminating emissions of nitrogen oxides and other pollutants. We must embrace such technology or risk falling further behind or completely missing out on a unique opportunity.

Where should we develop the first CCS project? We already have some shovel-ready projects.