Biomass UK calls CCUS action plan ‘a strong step forward’

By Erin Voegele | November 28, 2018

On Nov. 28, the U.K. government released an action plan that aims to enable the development of the nation’s first carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) project. Biomass U.K., an affiliate of the U.K. Renewable Energy Association, has spoken out in support of the action plan, noting the biomass power sector is already leading the way in carbon capture and storage development.

According to the U.K. Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the country’s first commercial-scale CCUS project could be up and running by the mid-2020s under the action plan released this week. The plan includes a commitment from the government to set out, within the next year, how to enable the U.K.’s first CCUS facility. Under the plan, the government will invest £20 million ($25.65 million) to support the construction of CCUS technologies as part of a £45 million commitment to innovation. The government will also invest up to £315 million in decarbonizing industry, including the potential to use CCUS, and will begin working with certain entities to identify existing oil and gas infrastructure that could be transformed for CCUS projects.

As part of the announcement, the BEIS also said the government will invest £175,000 in Project Acorn in St. Fergus, Scotland, to develop ways of transporting carbon emissions from where they are captured to storage. The funding will be matched by the Scottish government, with the European Union Commission also contributing funding.

The BEIS announcement references CCUS projects that are currently under development in the U.K., including those being pursued by OGCI Climate Investments and Drax. OGCI has announced its intention to open a commercial end-to-end CCUS project in Teesside. The project will use natural gas to generate power, with CO2 captured and transported by pipeline for storage under the seabed. Drax Power Station, located in North Yorkshire, is also developing a carbon capture and storage project. Earlier this week, the company announced work will soon start on the commissioning of its bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) pilot project, which is using technology developed by Leeds University spin-out company C-Capture. If the pilot is successful, the BEIS said Drax could become the world’s first negative emissions power station. Information released by the BEIS also indicates Drax’s 6-month pilot will look at a number of ways in which captured CO2 could be used within other processes, such as for carbonating drinks or creating synthetic fuels.

Benedict McAleenan, head of Biomass U.K., called the government’s CCUS project a strong step forward. “Combining bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, known as BECCS, paves the way to negative emissions, where we’ll actually remove CO2 from the atmosphere and lock it away,” he said. “BECCS was recognized this month by the Committee on Climate Change as crucial if we’re going to avoid disastrous climate change in an affordable way.”

A full copy of the action plan can be downloaded from the U.K. government website.