Committee advocates fast tracking CCS

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A cross- party parliamentary committee in the UK has recommended that the country accelerate funding for carbon-capture and storage projects by Drax Group Plc (DRX) and SSE Plc (SSE) , stressing its importance to combating climate change.

The Energy and Climate Change Committee said today in an e-mailed report that the government should speed up its final funding decision on the SSE and Drax projects, as well as encourage other projects by offering guaranteed power prices.

“Fitting power stations with technology to capture and store carbon is absolutely vital if we are to avoid dangerously destabilizing the climate,” committee chairman Tim Yeo (pictured) said in a statement. Ministers “must now fast-track these projects and reach final investment decisions before the election to ensure this technology can start delivering carbon savings by the 2020s,” he said, referring to next year’s U.K. general election.

“Government needs to prioritize designing a credible financial incentive framework using guaranteed-price contracts for difference and commit to a realistic but ambitious timeline for awarding support,” the panel said.

Cambridge University's senior lecturere on technology policy, David Reiner, told Power Engineering International, "After the delays, the failed competition and false starts, the select committee's report clearly adds to a sense of restored momentum alongside the two projects currently being evaluated. Clearly though there remains a wait-and-see attitude and continued scepticism in certain quarters such as the investment community and among most major European utilities."

Yeo also argues that Britain still has the chance to be a world leader in developing carbon capture, as well as the opportunity to open up a market for storage, because it has underground geological formations capable of storing 70 billion tons of CO2.

United Nations scientists have said the world has already emitted more than half of the CO2 permissible if it’s to cap the global average temperature rise since the 1800s to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s the point at which scientists and politicians say climate change will become dangerous because of rising seas, longer droughts and more intense storms.

In the U.K., the government in 2012 began a competition for £1bn ($1.7bn) of funding for CCS projects. In March 2013, it announced two preferred bidders: the White Rose project involving Drax, Alstom SA (ALO), BOC Group Ltd. and National Grid Plc, and an SSE and Royal Dutch Shell Plc venture at Peterhead. The energy department expects to make a decision by early next year.

“Progress on CCS in the U.K. has been frustratingly slow,” the lawmakers wrote, referring to a “lost decade” of potential progress.

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