CCUS report urges UK government to act now

Article by Amanda Doyle

Geoffrey Maitland and Rodney Allam at the launch of the Delivering Clean Growth report on 19 July

THE carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) cost challenge taskforce has released a report setting out recommendations to the UK government and calling for a policy framework to be released early next year.

The taskforce was established in January 2018 with the aim of providing a strategic plan to the UK government on how the country can lead in CCUS technology and how the cost can be decreased. CCUS technology has had limited uptake in the UK after the cancellation in 2015 of a £1bn (US$1.3bn) government competition to demonstrate the technology.

The report, Delivering Clean Growth, was released on 19 July and concludes that CCUS meets the commitments set out by the UK’s Clean Growth Strategy, which is the government’s commitment to lead the way to a low carbon future. The report has four key messages for the government: to recognise the CCUS opportunity and the urgency of acting now, to recognise the potential economic value of CCUS technology, that viable business models are needed, and that CCUS can be deployed at a competitive cost.

The report recommends that a minimum of two CCUS clusters, which are regional groupings that share infrastructure and knowledge, should be operational by the mid-2020s. The shared infrastructure would allow companies to benefit from lower costs. If this recommendation is to be met, then government action needs to be swift and significant support will be needed. The report urges the government to publish its policy framework and criteria in early 2019.

Luke Warren, chief executive of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, commented:

“After six months of intense discussions between a number of key CCUS stakeholders, the message from today’s report is clear: CCUS can already be deployed at a competitive cost, through the development of CCUS clusters in key UK regions. These clusters could support clean growth across the UK economy whilst retaining and creating high-value jobs in some of the UK’s most important industries.”

The taskforce was chaired by Charlotte Morgan, energy and infrastructure partner at Linklaters. Rodney Allam, Fellow of IChemE and inventor of a zero-emissions carbon capture system, was on the taskforce, along with Geoffrey Maitland, professor of energy engineering at Imperial College London and chair of the IChemE Energy Centre’s Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage Task Group.

“The systems thinking approach sits at the heart of this document and chemical engineers will be pivotal in the delivery of decarbonised energy and industry in the UK,” said Maitland.

Commenting on IChemE’s contribution to the report, Maitland said:

“The IChemE Energy Centre Report on the Commercialisation of CCS, launched in April, informed the CCUS Cost Challenge Taskforce discussions and report strongly. There is strong alignment of the two reports, even though the IChemE report took a more global view than the UK-focussed Taskforce. Both emphasise that the technology exists and has proven viability.”

“The report indicates the key role CCUS can make in the decarbonisation of the UK energy and manufacturing sector and in the transition to a world where decarbonised products of all sorts, from cement to plastics, are valued and may even command a premium. This shows the importance of the Energy Centre being pro-active in this and other future energy issues, to be a thought leader in the direction of the sector, and to influence policy makers and other stakeholders on direction and future targets. It also emphasises the need to link all this with the ideas of the IChemE SIGs, such as clean energy and sustainability, to provide this leadership and influence right across the process engineering sector, and to drive the inter-relationships that will bring solutions from chemical engineers to the broader challenges that exist across the energy-water-food nexus.”

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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