In Parliament >> Crunch time for CCS

12th October 2012


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Related tags

  • Mitigation ,
  • CCS

Author

IEMA

Chris Davies, Liberal Democrat environment spokesperson in the European parliament, urges EU and UK policymakers to support carbon capture and storage

It is more than five years since agreement was reached that up to 12 carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration projects should be in operation in the EU by 2015, and almost four years since a limited funding support mechanism was approved. Yet today not a single CCS project has been given the green light.

This is not be because an alternative to the technology has been found – there remains no other option but CCS for dealing with carbon emissions from major industrial plants. The International Energy Association claims that CCS must provide 20% of the global CO2 reductions needed to be achieved by 2050.

Demonstration of CCS technologies on a large scale is needed to reduce costs and raise efficiencies. If the price attached to the release of CO2 is high, then CCS may offer financial advantages, but current carbon prices are far too low to support its development without large subsidy. What is worse is that the value of the EU financial support is also dependent on the price of CO2 and it now amounts to just €300 million per project.

CCS schemes have fallen by the wayside across Europe, many delayed indefinitely. In some cases arrangements for underground storage have not been agreed, in other cases the problem is financial or political. It seems that the public can live with an explosive gas like methane beneath their feet, but not an inert one like CO2.

All eyes now rest on the UK and the Netherlands. Before the end of October, the European Commission requires the UK government to confirm that it will provide funding for projects at Don Valley, Peterhead or Drax.

Energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey is firmly committed to CCS. Whether he can overcome institutional delays and Treasury resistance in time to meet the deadline is quite another matter.

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