UK law commits to net-zero emissions, REA says BECCS is needed

By Erin Voegele | June 27, 2019

The U.K. officially established a law June 27 requiring net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Earlier in the week, the U.K. Renewable Energy Association released a paper outlining the role biorenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) can play in meeting that goal.

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Chris Skidmore signed legislation June 27 committing the U.K. to a legally binding target of net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. The country previously had a goal in place to achieve an 80 percent reduction when compared to 1990 levels. The move comes following a report published by the U.K. Committee on Climate Change in May recommending the U.K. government adopt a net-zero goal.  

“The U.K. kick-started the Industrial Revolution, which was responsible for economic growth across the globe but also for increasing emissions,” Skidmore said. “Today we’re leading the world yet again in becoming the first major economy to pass new laws to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050 while remaining committed to growing the economy - putting clean growth at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy. We’re pioneering the way for other countries to follow in our footsteps driving prosperity by seizing the economic opportunities of becoming a greener economy.”

The REA released a paper June 25 calling for action to be taken to ensure BECCS fulfills its potential in achievement in a net zero Britain.

According to the REA, the Committee on Climate Change has stated that achieving net zero is not possible without a range of GHG removal strategies. The group said BECCS has a central role to play in meeting those goals.

The REA’s paper explores a range of possible policy options that would advance BECCS and its wider co-benefits. These options include increases the U.K. total carbon price to £50 ($63.33) per ton of carbon dioxide starting in 2020 to promote rapid emissions reduction, supporting BECCS in the Contracts for Difference auctions, and establishing demonstration projects at several scales that use the lowest carbon feedstocks.

The REA is also urging the U.K. government to establish at least one commercial-scale BECCS project and several smaller demonstration-scale BECCS projects by the late 2020s in order to address residual emissions from hard to decarbonize sectors of the U.K. economy.

A link to download the full paper is available on the REA’s website.