UKERC research boosts CCS potential

New research has come to light concluding that although difficult, most uncertainties surrounding carbon capture and storage (CSS) technologies can be successfully resolved.

A two year project funded by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) assessed the technical, economic, financial and social uncertainties facing CCS and the role it could play in meeting UK energy policy goals. Its findings coincide with the announcement earlier this month that DECC has re-launched a £1bn competition to develop commercial scale CCS projects.

The report draws lessons from history, and concludes that previous technologies have faced similar challenges to those affecting CCS technologies today. In the past, such uncertainties have been resolved sufficiently for these technologies to succeed. While care is needed when learning from history, the findings offer some optimism that, given the right actions by government and industry, the uncertainties surrounding CCS can also be dealt with.

The report’s lead author, Professor Jim Watson, director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex, said: “We still don’t know when CCS technologies will be technically proven at full scale, and whether their costs will be competitive with other low-carbon options. So it is vital that the Government’s commitment to these technologies leads to several full scale CCS projects as soon as possible. Only through such learning by doing will we know whether CCS is a serious option for the future, and how the technical, economic and legal uncertainties currently facing investors can be overcome.

“It will be vital to keep options open in the government’s CCS commercialisation programme. Whilst it is welcome that the government has learned from the mistakes of the past, and now plans to support a number of CCS technologies, there is a long way to go before CCS is a reality at full scale.”