UK path to CCS commercialisation becoming clearer, and industry reportedly hopeful
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Combustion Industry News Editor
An article by Toby Lockwood of the IEA Clean Coal Centre published on the Modern Power Systems website has outlined the pathway that is beginning to emerge for commercialisation of carbon capture (utilisation) and storage in the UK. Transport and storage of captured CO2 is to become a regulated business with fixed returns for investors, much like the situation for water utilities. (UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has recently announced £800 million (US$1.04 billion/€953 million) in funding for transport and storage infrastructure.) Industrial facilities equipped with carbon capture units would pay to use this transportation and storage service, but the costs would partially or fully be recouped through tax subsidies (similar to the US), and/or through charging end consumers of products. Contracts for difference would be used to guarantee power prices for fossil fired power plants, with recognition of their value in being able to generate power when there is a shortage of wind or sun, and the financial incentives would be organised such that power generators equipped with CCS would be preferred over those without. For other industry, such as steel, cement and chemicals production, there is currently less certainty for how to arrange incentives, but the thinking is that the government will subsidise capital costs for CCS installations. Interestingly, the offshore wind industry is being seen as an example of how to balance cooperation and regulation with a level of competition that will drive efficiencies, and Dr Lockwood’s suggestion is that oil and gas companies will need to adapt to a less competitive and more cooperative means of operating to find the right balance. He describes the mood amongst CCUS technologists in the UK as hopeful.