It’s time to embrace carbon capture before its too late

It is no secret that the progress being made on CCS technology has now stalled, but with gas and coal generating much of our electricity in the years to come, we need it to be kicked back into life. Only last week, the PM spelt out the importance of both the capture and storage of carbon while setting the carbon target for 2030, and also how it would help to resolve the current debate rumbling on over how much gas it is safe to burn in the UK.

In November, a report came to the conclusion that CCS, Carbon Capture and Storage, could cut the yearly costs of meeting the country’s carbon targets by as much as 1% of GDP, the equivalent of £42bn a year, by 2050. Yet despite all the words, reports and promises, there has been disappointing progress made in this sector over the past decade. Not one large-scale, integrated CCS plus electricity projected has been implemented anywhere across the globe.

It has to be said that this is a technology that has few friends, and there are no apparent natural owners. It isn’t difficult to see why this is, it is big, capital intensive and keeps the unloved fossil fuels going. It doesn’t have the instinctive attractions of, for example, solar panels or wind turbines, or even tidal and wave power systems.

You cannot even blame electricity generators for not being fans, as is brings with is a substantial extra cost to their sites as well as reducing their plant’s flexibility. Generators don’t get the revenue support for extra costs like they do for wind farms, and with a weak carbon market, the commercial incentives for an electricity generator to build CCS is pretty non existent at the moment.