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Exclusive: UK Government Invests Just £6.4m in CCS Since 2004
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Article Type: Reprinted
Despite pledging to make it a centrepiece of its low carbon strategy the government has spent just £6.4m on research into Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) since 2004, can reveal.
The figures were released by the department of innovation universities and skills (Dius) and the department of energy and climate change (Decc) this month and show how far the UK still has to go if it wants to be a world leader in the technology.
CCS is one of the three technologies highlighted by Ed Miliband recently as vital to British business if the UK is to profit from the global move to a low carbon economy – the others are low carbon vehicles and off-shore wind.
"It is through early environmental leadership that Britain will capture world markets and create good jobs," Miliband said at the recent launch of the government's low carbon industrial strategy.
However, despite plans for a £1bn CCS demonstration project financial support for the technology to date has been meagre.
In a written answer to parliament earlier this month DECC minister Mike O'Brien said the Carbon Abatement Technologies Demonstration Programme – formerly part of the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Berr) – has spent just £500,000 on developing CCS since 2005.
In addition to this money, funding for industrially led research and development into CCS has been the responsibility of the independent but Dius-funded Technology Strategy Board since 2007. The Technology Strategy Board inherited some projects from the now-defunct Department of Trade and Industry.
It has spent £5.2m on one programme of CCS projects and some £650,000 on another.
In addition it has invested £1m in two other projects to develop high temperature alloys and pipework components that could be used in CCS projects, although these are not included in the total £6.4m figure.
The government has announced it will completely fund one CCS demonstration project to be operational by 2014, though no money has yet been spent.
Last month it also announced a further investment of £15m in CCS R&D, under the DECC programme, but again no money has yet been spent.
By contrast the US Department of Energy says it has invested more than $2.5bn (£1.8bn) on clean coal technology since 2001, including some small-scale carbon sequestration projects, though not all of this was spent specifically on carbon capture and storage.
More than €1.25bn of EU money was also recently ring fenced for CCS projects and the UK hopes to gain a share of it to fund a second CCS demonstration plant in the UK.
However, Jeff Chapman of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association warned that at present there was no commercial case for private sector firms to invest in CCS and that the government needs to provide funding fast if the technology is to develop.
"These figures aren't enough," he said. "Industry will need money to the tune of several billion pounds to deliver full-scale projects."
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