2012 - a crucial year for UK leadership in CCS

2012-04-02 12:34 by Anja Reitz

In the UK the government has spent an abortive four years on a competition for the first commercial scale CCS plant culminating in the cancellation of the chosen project at Longannet power plant. A competition for a further three projects has also been delayed.

Frustrating though that has been for all concerned, at least the government remains committed to undertake four projects and to accelerate the process of project selection.

There are plenty of lessons to be learned from the first competition and there is a commitment not to repeat the errors made. In addition, all the information generated in the engineering studies is being made available in a knowledge sharing exercise for the benefit of the industry.

At an “Industry Day” on 16th December the DECC Office for CCS laid out plans for the UK CCS programme starting with four initial projects. These projects will be supported by a combination of the £1bn previously earmarked for Longannet together with support from the UK Electricity Market Reform (EMR) through Contract for Difference Feed-in-Tariffs (CfD FiTs). They may also benefit from EU support under the NER 300 programme.

The projects will be regarded as forming a foundation for the future roll-out of CCS in the UK and will be selected partly on the contribution that they will make towards that aim. There will be an initial discussion period of two months with potential developers prior to a formal call for proposals.

In this paper I set out some of the imperatives that need to be addressed to get these initial projects established and progress to full CCS deployment.

In 2008, the UK committed to a legally binding national target of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has recommended as a necessary milestone the almost complete decarbonisation of the power sector by 2030. In a recent report prepared by the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (A Strategy for CCS in the UK and Beyond) we concluded that this will necessitate at least 20 to 30 GW of installed capacity of fossil fuel power plant fitted with CCS by 2030.

Decarbonisation of the power sector relying solely on inflexible nuclear and intermittent renewable energy sources is not realistic. A good proportion of complementary, reliable and flexible power generated by fossil fuel will be the key to security of supply and grid functionality and that fossil plant will need to be equipped with CCS.

The cost of generation must always be a leading factor in a market-based energy supply regime, particularly in tough economic times. From that point of view, figures published by the Committee for Climate Change and others demonstrate CCS to be highly cost-effective compared with other low-carbon technologies. The cost of CCS is very project specific and, although pilot projects and desk studies have been carried out and experience of the plant for capture, transport and storage chain exist at commercial scale, we have yet to get hands-on design, build and operational experience of full chain CCS projects on power plant. The sooner we get some momentum behind building the first CCS plants, the faster the process of technology optimisation and cost reduction can take place.


source: Feature Articles, Mar  04  2012 (Carbon Capture Journal)

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