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

Again, I agree completely with the hon. Gentleman. Given the coal mining in Europe for power generation and having to deal with climate change, we certainly ought to look at that.

Shortly before the demise of the Department of Energy and Climate Change—it is now the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy—it commissioned a study from the Energy Technologies Institute to examine where CO2 clusters and commercially viable storage could be developed around the UK by 2030. The study identified five locations. Only one is deliverable right now, and I will spend a few moments describing how that so-called Acorn project could grow into a mighty oak tree of carbon capture, transport and storage.

To get a CO2 takeaway network to operate, we need to gather CO2 from multiple sources onshore and to transport it to the coast through a pipe and then through an offshore pipe to its carbon storage destination. St Fergus in north-east Scotland is the offshore oil industry equivalent of Clapham Junction. Many of the gathering pipes from the North Sea bring oil and gas to landfall at St Fergus, which has a huge amount of pipeline infrastructure and processing equipment available. With the decline of North Sea activity in certain fields, some of that equipment is no longer required.

Specifically, pipelines from St Fergus to the Atlantic and Goldeneye gas fields have now ceased hydrocarbons transport and are in fact scheduled to enter a decommissioning process. Onshore, three facilities service different offshore pipeline networks and produce about 400,000 tonnes per year of carbon dioxide, which at the moment is vented into the atmosphere. The Acorn project aims to capture and store that CO2. The SAGE—Scottish Area Gas Evacuation—plant is also in St Fergus but, given the time, I will move on to allow other Members the opportunity to speak.

What of the Government’s new industrial strategy? My colleague the hon. Member for Waveney will discuss that in more detail, so I will touch on it only lightly. Publication this month of the initial “Building our Industrial Strategy” Green Paper is the first step towards introducing a new, engaged Government-industry relationship, which is to be commended. The paper invites engagement and comment, and is most welcome. I urge the Minister to include CCS in the final strategy, and ask him to give assurances today that CCS will be considered carefully and implemented as one of the many steps into Britain’s new industrial future, which looks to both industrial development and a greener, cleaner industrial future for our children and our children’s children.

The summary of the key findings of the CCS parliamentary advisory group’s report states:

“CCS is essential for lowest cost decarbonisation

1. This report addresses the policy disconnect that arises between the previous Government’s cancellation of the…CCS …competition on grounds of cost and the advice it received from a number of independent policy bodies that CCS was an essential technology for least cost decarbonisation of the UK economy to meet international agreements (most recently Paris 2015).

2. The Committee on Climate Change…recently reported the additional costs of inaction on CCS for UK consumers to be £1-2bn per year in the 2020s, rising to £4-5bn per year in the 2040s…The group agrees carbon capture and storage is an essential component in delivering lowest cost decarbonisation across the whole UK economy.

CCS works and can be deployed quickly at scale…Current CCS technology and its supply chain are fit for purpose”— as I said, CCS works are shovel-ready—

“UK action on CCS now will deliver lowest cost to the consumer. There is no justification for delay. Heavy costs will be imposed on current and future UK consumers by a continued failure to enact an effective CCS policy…Ample, safe and secure CO2 storage capacity is available offshore in the rocks deep beneath UK territorial waters and this represents the least cost form of storage at the scale required…CO2 re-use, such as enhanced oil recovery and the production of materials such as building products, already exists and should continue to be encouraged,” but it will not be able to deal with the huge volume required to make a difference in meeting our climate change targets. The summary continues:

“The lowest cost CO2 storage solution for the UK at the scale required will be offshore geological storage in UK territorial waters. There is no reason to delay…CCS in the power sector has an essential enabling role.

CCS has direct or indirect implications for the decarbonisation of all four of the major fossil fuel consuming sectors of the UK economy—industry, power, transport and heating. They need to be considered together so that synergies of a common infrastructure can be exploited…With some 200TWh/year of new clean power generation needed in the UK system in the 2020s fossil fuels with CCS will play an important role as a cost competitive and potentially flexible power generation technology.

There is a widespread view that CCS has to be expensive. On the contrary, the high costs revealed by the earlier UK approaches reflected the design of these competitions, rather than the underlying costs of CCS itself.”

The poor design in the second CCS competition

“led to the lack of true competition and the imposition of risks on the private sector that it cannot take at reasonable cost for early full-chain” development. The summary also states:

“Previous third party analysis by the CCS Cost Reduction Taskforce and for the Committee on Climate Change as well as analysis performed for this report show full-chain CCS costs at c.£85/MWh under the right circumstances. This report concludes that, under the right conditions as set out in this report, even the first CCS projects can compete on price with other forms of clean electricity.

To ensure that least cost CCS is developed when earlier approaches have foundered a CCS Delivery Company…should be established that will initially be government owned but could subsequently be privatised” if the Government so wish. The summary continues:

“This company will have the responsibility of managing ‘full-chain’
risk and will be responsible for the progressive development of infrastructure focused on industrial hubs to which power stations and other emitters could deliver CO2 which, for a fee, will be pumped to appropriate storage.

The CCSDC will comprise two companies: ‘PowerCo
tasked with delivering the anchor power projects at CCS hubs and ‘T&SCo’
tasked with delivering transport and storage infrastructure for all sources of CO2 at such hubs.”

It is clear that we must think and act more holistically about our energy needs and uses, and the inevitable effects of our behaviour on our planet. I hereby recommend that CCS be included in the Government’s new industrial strategy for the benefit of everyone in the UK now and in the future, as our children and our children’s children will be presented with our bill should we get this wrong again.