The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has tabled a prize fund worth £20m to competitors who design the most pioneering innovation in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
Energy secretary Ed Davey announced the plans earlier this week, and said that the “competition is an important step towards making cost competitive CCS a reality by the 2020s.”
Carbon capture is the continued burning of fossil fuels, but without the massive attached environmental consequence of releasing carbon dioxide.
Instead of the carbon dioxide entering into the atmosphere, it’s captured at a power plant, purified, piped away for hundreds of kilometres, and then injected into geological storage reservoirs deep below ground, where it can be stored for tens of thousands of years.
The £20m CCS Innovation Programme award is part of a four-year, Government-led research and development programme, worth nearly £125m.
The Government sees CCS as an essential contributor to the UK’s proposed low-carbon economy targets, and developments made in the sector through this competition are viewed as absolutely vital to achieving this.
Stuart Haszeldine, professor of carbon capture and storage at the University of Edinburgh, said that whilst the announcement is a positive one, DECC will have to invest its time as well as its money, into ensuring the project is successful.
“The CCS innovation fund is a very useful action by DECC as it increases the opportunity for UK universities and especially industry to reduce costs of component parts within the CCS system”, Haszeldine said.
“However, we need to be cautious that this innovation fund does not become the dominant feature of the new CCS programme for a portfolio of options.
“Each project will require DECC staff time to evaluate, commission and monitor. Those staff are less available to support full scale CCS validation projects.”
Jeff Chapman, CEO of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, highlighted the importance of CCS, and in particular, DECC’s competition.
“CCS has the potential to make massive reductions in our national CO2 emissions in a very cost-effective manner”, he said.
“This research and development funding is most welcome to help optimise the technology, save costs and put the UK into a strong competitive position in world markets.”
The Government consider CCS to be a vital cog in the carbon reduction engine. Whilst it might help the UK achieve its emission targets, it is still using up finite resources.
That’s why renewable energy is so important to our fuel mix, because, by definition, it’s here for the long haul – unlike fossil fuels.
Good Energy, the UK’s only 100% renewable electricity provider, is a great place to start if you’re interested in making the necessary switch to clean power.
Picture source: KNOW MALTA by Peter Grima