Britain is unlikely to see commercial carbon-capture and storage (CCS) projects by 2020 and the government should devise a plan on how to reach climate targets by the end of the decade if CCS is not delivered, a UK parliamentary committee said in a report on Tuesday.
Britain plans to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and CCS technology fitted to carbon-intensive coal plants is considered key to reaching this target.
But a British government decision last week to withdrawn funding for the country’s first and most advanced CCS project at Longannet in Scotland has underscored critics’ doubts that the expensive technology can reach commercial scale by the end of the decade.
“If CCS technology is not commercially available by 2020, the UK could face an energy dilemma,” members of parliament (MPs) from the Energy and Climate Change Committee said in a report summarizing the group’s findings into Britain’s security of supply.
“Either provide energy security but exceed carbon budgets by running new unabated fossil plant; or, meet climate change obligations but risk energy security by shutting down (or using only very sparingly) unabated fossil plant.”
The group urged the government to immediately draw up plans on the impact of a lack of CCS technology on Britain’s climate targets.
The MPs also asked the government to commission a report into the consequences on climate targets of leaving unabated gas-fired power plants running during the 2020s.
Last week the government said it had dropped funding for the Longannet CCS project but that the one billion pounds in subsidies would be dedicated to a different CCS project.
Britain’s leading trade union body warned last week the country must step up investment in clean coal or risk losing jobs and jeopardizing chances to lead global CCS development.