UK Prime Minister promises funding for CCS and R&D

Article by Amanda Doyle

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised £800m (US$1.03bn) in funding for CCS along with doubling research and development funding to £18bn.

In a speech given at the LEVC plug-in hybrid factory in Coventry on 13 November, Johnson pledged to invest £800m in new CCS infrastructure and double funding for R&D in the next parliament. The promises come ahead of the UK general election, which is scheduled for 12 December.

Luke Warren, CEO of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, said: “[The] announcement of significant funding for CCS infrastructure, is extremely welcome. Building CCS infrastructure around the UK which can be shared by different sectors of our economy is key to delivering net zero and clean growth. This infrastructure can underpin the development of competitive, low-carbon industry, realise the hydrogen economy and deliver clean power plants and greenhouse gas removal technologies. Investing in CCS infrastructure can put the UK at the forefront of the low-carbon industrial revolution and create the clean industries of the future. We look forward to seeing the details of this policy announcement”.

A detailed policy framework from the Government will be crucial, as this is not the first time that funding has been promised for CCS. In 2015, the Government promised £1bn for a CCS demonstration competition, which was later cancelled. A previous competition was cancelled in 2011.

The announcement of increased R&D funding has been welcomed, however concerns remain over the potential reduction in international collaboration.

Sarah Main, Executive Director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, said: “Questions remain as to the Prime Minister’s intentions on participating in EU research programmes, which bring wide-ranging benefits for example for ease of collaboration. With a clear commitment to a long-term rising budget, attention will turn to not how much is committed but how it will be spent. For the UK’s science and engineering strength to serve us best, the next Government must ensure it is supported by not only funds, but by the people and partnerships that make research happen.”

Sir Jim McDonald, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “Proposed increases in funding for research and development are always welcome. Critically, these should also recognise that real progress and genuine economic impact depend crucially on engineering to deliver real world solutions through R&D and technological innovation. Any future government must therefore address the UK’s severe engineering skills shortage – it is estimated that we need up to 59,000 extra engineers a year. Engineers play a profoundly important role in shaping the world around us, and their work is essential both to tackling climate change and delivering an inclusive economy — from designing sustainable cities and transport systems to delivering clean energy solutions.”

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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