Time is running out to make the critical development and investment decisions necessary to commission full-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) plants in time to help the UK decarbonise its energy systems by 2050, Jo Coleman, Strategy Director at the Energy Technologies Institute, will tell a Royal Academy of Engineering conference in London today.

Speaking at Innovation in Energy, Ms Coleman will make the case that CCS is key to enabling the country to meet its binding 80% carbon emission reduction targets by 2050. Using extensive modelling done by the ETI, a public-private partnership between global energy and engineering companies, she will demonstrate the importance of a whole-system view of our energy generation and use, including heating and transport.

"CCS is high value as it creates options," says Ms Coleman, "because we could apply the same CO2 transport and storage infrastructure for power and industry, in the future enabling bioenergy with CCS to create negative emissions and hydrogen production. By doing so we can meet our decarbonisation targets and avoid some of the really expensive solutions for very deep decarbonisation of our vehicles and homes.

"The future is inherently uncertain and we need to design and prepare a system that creates and retains optionality, but we also need to prepare to make informed choices. The scale of change required to our infrastructure (electricity, heat, liquid fuels, etc) means that some key decisions must be made during the 2020s. By then, we need to have proven the technical, operating, business and regulatory models at scale to provide evidence to policymakers and confidence to investors."

Dr Angela Whelan, Chief Executive of Ecofin Research Foundation, agrees - the Foundation and the ETI are working with developers, capital providers, policy makers and other stakeholders to put CCS on a commercial footing.

"Successfully deploying carbon capture and storage would be a huge economic prize for the UK in its low carbon transition, potentially cutting the annual cost of meeting our carbon targets by up to 1% of GDP by 2050," says Dr Whelan. "The UK government has launched a CCS commercialisation programme offering £1bn of capital funding and Contracts for Difference (CfD) for low carbon generation for up to two projects. If private sector capital is to be mobilised for the follow-on CCS projects, then we have major challenges to overcome - making early CCS projects investable is a key priority in fulfilling its potential."

Innovation in Energy is a half-day conference to be held at 14.00 - 17.30 on Monday 31 March 2014 at the Royal Academy of Engineering, 3 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1. The event will showcase a selection of some of the most recent advances in the energy sector, focusing on the technological innovations being made in electricity generation as well as exploring innovations in system management.

Innovation in Energy event flyer (383.14 KB)

Notes for editors

  1. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK's national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK's role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK's world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook. We have four strategic challenges: Drive faster and more balanced economic growth; foster better education and skills; lead the profession; promote engineering at the heart of society.
  2. Engineering for Growth is a partnership campaign to demonstrate the contribution of engineering to the UK economy and society. This involves promoting the economic impact and societal benefits delivered by engineering; raising awareness of the issues that explore how engineering could make a bigger contribution; and increasing the profile of EfG partners and supporters' activities that will help create growth in the economy.
  3. The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) is a public-private partnership between global energy and engineering companies - BP, Caterpillar, EDF, E.ON, Rolls-Royce and Shell - and the UK Government. Public sector representation is through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, with funding channelled through the Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The Department of Energy and Climate Change are observers on the ETI Board. The ETI brings together engineering projects that accelerate the development of affordable, secure and sustainable technologies that help the UK address its long term emissions reductions targets as well as delivering nearer term benefits.
  4. The Ecofin Foundation is a charity founded by Ecofin Limited, a London based investment management firm. The Foundation uses its knowledge of the global utility and finance sectors and its network of contacts to find practical solutions to help the move to a low carbon economy.

For more information please contact:

Jane Sutton at the Royal Academy of Engineering 
Tel: 020 7766 0636
Email: Jane Sutton

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