Is CCUS still in the energy mix?

27 November 2018

In a new report, the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) asks if carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) is still in the mix to support the UK’s transition to a low carbon future. The report anlyses how CCUS has the potential to be a versatile and valuable enabler of a wide range of options in the energy system to meet carbon targets at low cost. It concludes that if CCUS is not deployed over the next decade, the UK’s transition to a low carbon energy system will face increased risk and higher costs.

Key findings from the report:

 •Extensive research has consistently demonstrated that Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) deployment is a key component in minimising costs in the transition to a low carbon energy system

•New electricity system analysis shows that the UK is likely to need low carbon baseload generation to complement renewables ­ gas power with CCUS and new nuclear are worthy of comparable effort

•If CCUS is not deployed by 2030 carbon abatement costs will rise to circa £1 billion a year ­ and could double before 2050

•Gas power stations with CCUS fitted can provide anchor loads for CO2 pipelines and stores that serve emerging CCUS clusters, unlocking a pathway for CCUS to cut emissions in industry and support hydrogen production.

‘Still in the mix? Understanding the role of Carbon Capture Usage and Storage’, was written by the Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) for the ETI, and takes into account recent cost reductions in renewables and the latest ETI modelling on CCUS costs. The report reaffirms previous ETI work on the importance of CCUS deployment by 2030, without which carbon abatement costs will increase by circa £1billion a year. The research also cements ETI analysis that if CCUS is not developed at all before 2050, the ‘national bill’ for low carbon energy that year would be circa £35bn higher – equivalent to about 1% of expected GDP.

It highlights gas power with CCUS (up to 3GW) as an effective low carbon electricity option that can be deployed cost-effectively before 2030 within an electricity generation mix that meets the 5th carbon budget. The report concludes that early investment in gas power CCUS in favourable locations for a CCUS industrial cluster represents the most straightforward, deliverable and best value approach to early deployment of the technology.

The ETI has spent 10 years carrying out extensive research on the deployment of CCUS and for this report commissioned analysis from Baringa Partners and Frontier Economics. Baringa explored cost optimal pathways for decarbonising electricity out to 2050 with a focus on the pre-2030s. Frontier Economics produced illustrative analysis against a baseline scenario informed by the assumptions constructed by Baringa¹s work.

Andrew Haslett, chief engineer, ETI comments: “This new report produced for us by the ESC confirms our belief that CCUS is highly versatile and valuable as an enabler of a wide range of options to meet carbon targets at low cost, and the technology is vital to an affordable low carbon transition for the UK. When account is taken of the potential benefits of CCUS to wider energy system decarbonisation, the case becomes compelling.”

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