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£20M carbon capture innovation fund launched

Carbon bw crop

The UK Government is setting aside £20M of  innovation funding for carbon-capture technology. 

Speaking in Edinburgh  at a joint conference with the International Energy Agency, the energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry has announced that the government will commit £20M of the UK’s innovation budget to supporting construction of new carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) schemes.  

Alongside the minister’s announcement, the department for businesses energy and intentional strategy (BEIS) has published its CCUS action plan, that could see new CCUS schemes operational as soon as the mid 2020’s and rolled out at larger scale by 2030.   

Speaking ahead of the summit Perry said the UK was setting itself up to be a global leader in CCUS. 

“The UK is setting a world-leading ambition for developing and deploying carbon capture and storage technology to cut emissions,” she said.  

The plan announced also commits a further £315M in the wider de-carbonising industry, as well as a direct £175,000 investment in Project Acorn in St Fergus, Scotland, to develop ways of transporting carbon emissions from where they are captured to storage facilities. The European Union Commission will also provide funding for the scheme.  

The reboot of CCUS comes after the government cancelled a £1bn competition for new CCUS technology three years ago, costing the tax payer £100M.  

International Energy Agency executive director Fatih Birol said CCUS was a key part of reaching climate change prevention goals. 

“Without CCUS as part of the solution, reaching our international climate goals is practically impossible. CCUS can also enhance energy security and boost economic prosperity,” she said. 

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) welcomed the new announcement. 

“We’re pleased to see a commitment from Ministers to invest in carbon capture and storage, and to examine how this new technology could be applied to industrial sites and existing oil and gas infrastructure,” the spokesperson said.  

The NIC were hopeful that the carbon captured could be used in hydrogen manufacture trials, which it recommended in its National Infrastructure Assessment.  

“As well as these, we’d like to see the plan aligned with our recommendation to conduct a large-scale trial to explore manufacturing hydrogen with carbon capture and storage in the early 2020s, to test the viability of using this as an alternative to natural gas for the UK’s heating supply.”  

“This could make a real impact in meeting our climate change targets both in the short term and long into the future,” the spokesperson added.  

However, not all were pleased with the anoucement. Head of engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Jenifer Baxter described the amount of funding as ”underwhelming” and said it would be slow to translate into action. 

“CCUS is a critical part of the future energy and industrial systems and the government is heading in the right direction with providing additional funding. However, the amounts are somewhat underwhelming and the translation into action in this sector is slow,” she said

“The UK is well-placed to lead the world in the development of carbon capture and storage technologies, which are considered critical for decarbonising our whole energy system. Deployment of demonstration plants and low carbon industrial clusters should form a central part of our industrial strategy. The renewed focus on CCUS, is welcome, but planning should be converted into action soon.”

The CCUS action plan commitments:  

  • Next year set out how to enable the UK’s first CCUS facility 
  • Investing £20M in supporting construction of CCUS technologies at industrial sites across the UK, as part of £45 million commitment to innovation 
  • Investing up to £315M in decarbonising industry, including the potential to use CCUS 
  • Begining work with the Oil and Gas Authority, industry and the Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland to identify existing oil and gas infrastructure which could be transformed for CCUS projects

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