IGEM has welcomed the latest report from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, which states that UK cannot “credibly” reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero without the widespread use of carbon capture technology.
The report, Carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS): third time lucky?, concluded that government support for the fledgling industry has been “turbulent”.
Current policies on carbon capture are “so broad as to be meaningless” it said, as MPs urged ministers to set a clear direction for the technology, which is necessary to meet both national and international climate change targets.
IGEM’s Head of Technical Services & Policy Ian McCluskey reiterated the need for the government to show it is serious about CCUS. He said: “As we try to find solutions to decarbonise our energy system in order to meet our climate change targets, we should encourage the government to view CCUS primarily as a tool for decarbonisation, rather than as an extra cost on power generation.
“We support the view that the government should commit to supporting CCUS where and while it remains the cheapest route to decarbonisation, notably in industrial applications.”
The Committee’s report said there was a lack of clarity surrounding the government's ambitions for CCUS technologies, which aim to capture waste CO2 from industries before either storing the gas or finding secondary uses for it.
It highlighted past decisions from the government to cancel two major carbon capture development competitions at late stages, which it said had undermined business and investor confidence, leading to no commercial-scale CCUS plant having yet been constructed in the UK.
Mr McCluskey added: “The gas industry is committed to decarbonisation of the energy sector and a number of key projects relating to the development and use of hydrogen in the gas networks are dependent on the successful deployment of CCUS technology.
“For example, Northern Gas Networks, in conjunction with Cadent, SGN and Wales & West Utilities, identified this as a key element of its H21 North of England report, published late 2018. Likewise, Cadent is exploring the use of CCUS for the HyNet North West of England project and SGN in Aberdeen for its H100 initiative.”
IGEM also welcomes the recommendation that the government should expedite safety demonstrations, and – assuming these are satisfied – bring forward amendments to the Gas (Safety Management) Regulations and the Gas (Control of Thermal Energy) Regulations as a matter of urgency to enable large-scale demonstrations of hydrogen injection into the gas grid.
IGEM, in conjunction with the industry, has been developing a new Gas Quality Standard that will allow a new UK gas quality specification to facilitate a change from GS(M)R that reflects the available alternative sources of gas and aligns with the European standard.
The standard will set the Wobbe Index (WI) range appropriate for the UK, initially examining the extension of the upper range. The specification will also seek to further widen the index in the lower range at an appropriate stage. The review has also considered the impact of emergency specifications, the interaction with the wider ENA GS(M)R review process and the impact on European CEN standards and security of supply regulations.
Mr McCluskey added: “These changes are ready for industry consultation and will make a significant contribution to decarbonising our industry.”