The Government’s new energy ministers need to get on with it and publish the long promised new strategy on carbon capture and storage (CCS), which could drive major benefits for Teesside.
Alex Cunningham said they urgently need to confirm their future investment intentions and make clear what form their new approach will take in order to provide certainty to business and industry.
The Stockton North MP, who co-chairs the All Party Parliamentary Groups for both CCS and Energy Intensive Industries, was speaking in response to a letter received by the Energy Intensive Users Group from the then-Energy Secretary confirming the potential future role of CCS in decarbonisation.
The letter came shortly after the UK agreed its fifth carbon budget, committing to cut emissions by 57 per cent by 2032 from 1990 levels, and the Committee on Climate Change published its 2016 Progress Report specifically recommending the Government come forward with a new approach to CCS technology.
The Government has already slashed funding for greener energy options, including onshore wind and solar, and further ambiguity around CCS not only jeopardises the investment needed to make any strategy viable but also risks increased costs for its delivery.
“The priority for new ministers involved in energy policy, along with the new chancellor, should be to clarify the status of climate targets in light of the outcome of the EU referendum and to clearly prioritise energy spending intentions to ensure realistic and responsible goals are retained and achieved.
“CCS must be part of any such plan, especially in light of cuts already sustained to renewables investment and subsidies. The Government must commit to leading on climate change and energy policy, and to drive innovation and investment, rather than sitting in the passenger seat attempting to give directions.
“It is hard to see how a lack of policy ambition for CCS can be reconciled with the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change for power sector decarbonisation, or with the Government’s desire to enable energy intensive industries to remain part of the UK economy in the longer term.
“Instead, the development of Industrial Roadmaps for energy intensive sectors shows current technologies to be insufficient to deliver the scale of decarbonisation implied by the Committee’s recommendations. It is therefore difficult to envisage a scenario that will see these recommendations for power sector decarbonisation achieved without deployment of CCS at gas-fired power stations. With one of the largest clusters of manufacturing industries in the UK, it is only by investing in CCS in places like Teesside – with the capacity and expertise to make such projects work – that the UK can protect vital energy intensive industries and secure a stable future.”