Carbon capture and storage potential assessed

19 April 2012 by Adele Walker

A new report by UKERC - UK Energy Research Centre – concludes that the right actions from government and industry can resolve the uncertainties facing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.

Chimneys emitting smoke

The authors of the report, Carbon capture and storage: realising the potential?, spent two-years assessing the technical, economic, financial and social uncertainties facing CCS technologies and analysing the role CCS could play in helping the UK achieve its energy policy goals.

CCS refers to a range of technologies intended to prevent large amounts of CO2 being released into the atmosphere from fossil-fuel burning by power stations and other industries, by capturing the gas and storing it securely underground.

The report, published today, follows the recent announcement of a new long-term strategy for CCS by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. This includes relaunching the UK's £1 billion competition to develop commercial scale CCS projects, which was abandoned last year amid concerns that CCS was simply not economically viable.

Lead author Profesor Jim Watson, of the University of Sussex, emphasised the need for full-scale CCS projects as soon as possible to fully prove the technology and establish how competitive it's likely to be.

"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," he explains.

The UKERC report identifies that previous new technologies have faced similar challenges to those now facing CCS, which have been resolved in the past. The authors are optimistic that, with the right actions by government and industry, the same can be true for CCS.

Among several key messages the report highlights that legislation to make CCS compulsory won't work without adequate investment to get the technology right.