As the ICE publishes it's damning report on the UK's carbon capture efforts, its vice president suggests how we could return to being at the cutting edge of the technology
The UK has legally-binding climate change commitments that demand we significantly reduce our carbon emissions - by 80% against 1990 levels by 2050. While this is an achievable but challenging target, schemes that can provide large-scale reductions in emissions need to be implemented at the earliest stage possible.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been identified as having a key role in meeting climate change targets, having the potential to reduce emissions from hydrocarbon-fired power stations up to 90%.
With an estimated 70% of the world’s electricity generated by coal, being able to almost de-carbonise the generation process would have a significant impact on emissions levels which we need to reduce, not only by international agreements, but to mitigate the potentially disastrous effects of cataclysmic climate change.
So, CCS, if harnessed now, presents an opportunity to use the UK’s world class engineering base to create a lucrative export opportunity, by adapting the technology for power stations across the globe. This would also create much-needed jobs across the industry.
However, in recent years the UK has fallen behind other countries in the global race to develop CCS technology on a commercial scale because of continued uncertainty about how CCS will be funded and lack of a coherent regulatory framework. Countries such as the US are pushing ahead where we once had the competitive edge, and if we are to fully benefit from the opportunities presented by CCS we need to regain this lead.
ICE believes we can deliver these important challenges however it requires government to take the lead and provide the strategic environment for industry to plan, invest and develop with confidence.
Geoff French is ICE vice president