CCS could provide £160bn boost to British economy by 2050

The UK could enjoy an economic boost to the tune of £160bn by 2050 if it invests in a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) network along its East Coast.

A new report released today by energy developers Summit Power and other parties finds that the benefits of delivering a large scale carbon capture scheme could outweigh the costs by as much as £129bn.

Stephen Kerr, project director of the Caledonia Clean Energy Project which led the study, believes that the work reframes the understanding of how investing in infrastructure that “cleans up industry, air quality, and even your gas boiler, can benefit all of us.”

"We've shown that for every £1 invested in carbon capture, the payback to the UK economy is almost £5. In the medium term, the strategic value to the UK in offering Europe-wide CO2 storage services is undeniable, and could more than double these numbers,” he said.

CCS is the process of trapping carbon dioxide as it is emitted and piping it into storage areas, usually underground, to prevent it from adding to global warming.

Under the proposed scheme for the East Coast, the CCSA suggests dedicated CO2 infrastructure would link clusters of industry across Scotland, Tesside, the Humber, and the South East to offshore storage infrastructure in the North Sea.

The CCS industry has argued repeatedly that it should be supported now in order to make use of existing infrastructure from the North Sea oil and gas sector before the equipment and expertise in that sector becomes mothballed.

It has calculated the economic benefits that will accrue to the economy thanks to CCS by factoring in considerations such as avoided emissions costs, increased domestic manufacturing activity, and a more positive balance in UK imports and exports.

The news comes just two days after Statoil, Shell and Total inked a new partnership to deliver large scale CCS capacity for a range of Norwegian clean tech projects, with the CO2 set to be stored in huge quantities beneath the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

Kerr warned that with Norway already taking a strategic lead in the development of the technology, the UK needs to act fast or risk being left behind. "Strong leadership and a clear approach are now required to deliver carbon capture benefits in our economy, our industries and our climate," he said.

The government is expected to launch its Clean Growth Strategy in a matter of weeks, with expectations high that it will contain plans to revive the UK's struggling CCS sector alongside sweeping new policies to tackle heat, transport and green energy development.

The UK's CCS sector has been in the doldrums since 2015 when the government axed a £1bn development competition with no notice.

However, speaking at this week's Conservative Party Conference, climate change minister Claire Perry hinted strongly that the government still believed CCS had a role to play in the UK's decarbonisation efforts.

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