Response to BEIS Committee carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) inquiry

26 Aug 2018

This evidence is a joint submission by the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources (ISR) and UKERC. These two institutions have worked together closely in the past, including on a report commissioned by the Global CCS Institute, on The role of CCS in meeting climate policy targets.

We are submitting evidence because we believe CCUS is likely to have a critical role as part of an overall decarbonisation strategy for the UK – and, perhaps more importantly, for the world. We are keen to take part in the debate as to how this can be achieved.
 

Executive summary

 

  • Current modelling evidence suggests that meeting carbon reduction targets will be at best significantly more expensive, and at worst impossible, without CCUS.
     
  • This is primarily due to its offer of emissions reductions in industrial sectors, and of negative emissions with biomass, rather than as a power sector technology per se.
     
  • Attempting to pre-define a cost-reduction trajectory for CCUS in advance is difficult and uncertain.
     
  • Rather, the government should establish a maximum subsidy level at which it would be prepared to contribute to funding CCUS, and commit to fund projects should they reach this level or go below it.
     
  • It should then introduce competitive mechanisms to assist discovery of the lowest cost, similar to the Contract for Difference (CfD) auctions.
     
  • It also needs to support the whole innovation chain, coordinating diverse actors across industry and power sectors, CO2 transmission and storage; supporting research, development and demonstration efforts of shared benefit; taking over whole chain risk; identifying synergies between industrial sectors.
     
  • Although CCUS currently appears to be critical to industry decarbonisation, there are other potential options which may compete with or indeed complement CCUS in the longer term. A bottom-up, granular approach to decarbonisation challenges and opportunities within specific UK industry clusters will yield greater long-term benefits than a single-technology focus on CCUS alone.