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

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 3:02 pm on 24th January 2017.

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Photo of Peter Aldous Peter Aldous Conservative, Waveney 3:02 pm, 24th January 2017

I agree. There is a compelling case for us to get on with this now.

The second reason why CCS is important is cost. That was why the previous pilots failed. The Oxburgh report established that the high costs revealed by earlier approaches in the UK were attributable to the design of the competitions, not the underlying costs of CCS itself. Analysis by the CCS Reduction Task Force and for the Committee on Climate Change, which was confirmed by Lord Oxburgh’s group, showed that CCS can be delivered at approximately £85 per megawatt-hour. That is competitive with other large-scale low-carbon energies such as nuclear and offshore wind.

CCS also has what I regard as a unique selling point. Some people might say, “Why us? Why the UK? Let other countries, such as Norway, do the hard legwork to get the technology off the ground. We’ll join the party later.” Such comments are wrong and misplaced, and out of context with what Britain should be doing in this post-Brexit world. The UK has a unique selling point that means that we must be pioneers in the vanguard of the CCS movement. This USP—what unites me in my Waveney constituency in East Anglia with the hon. Members from Scotland and the north-east—is the North sea, the United Kingdom continental shelf, where we have our own large safe and secure CO2 storage vessel offshore in the rocks in this country’s territorial waters. As a result of the development of the oil and gas industry in the North sea over the past 50 years, the UK has developed an enormous expertise of experience that we can harness to deliver carbon capture and storage.

Yesterday the Government published their Green Paper, “Building our Industrial Strategy”. CCS and implementing the recommendations of the Oxburgh report fit well with the Government’s ambitions and directions of travel. When I go through the pillars underpinning the industrial strategy, CCS ticks all 10 boxes. If the Government accept the six Oxburgh recommendations, they will invest in science, research and particularly innovation. Investing in CCS goes hand in hand with developing skills, boosting science, technology, engineering and maths skills, and raising school levels and lagging areas. I could go through all 10, but I sense my time is pressing, Mr Betts, so I will cut to the chase—to the final pillar of creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places.

The strategy states:

“We will consider the best structures to support people, industries and places.”

That is a ringing endorsement for the six Oxburgh report recommendations.

On that note, I will conclude. Lord Oxburgh has provided the right framework for an exciting new industry and now is the right time to invest in CCS.