ETI calls for more emphasis on CCS, bioenergy

By Energy Technologies Institute | March 24, 2016

The U.K.-based Energy Technologies Institute has called for greater emphasis on progressing carbon capture and storage (CCS) and building a U.K. bioenergy sector in the next 15 years if the U.K. is to meet its targets for decarbonizing its energy system in the most cost effective way.

The call was made by Chief Executive David Clarke who gave evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee’s inquiry into Setting the Fifth Carbon Budget March 16.

Clarke said, “We support the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendations and they are an important step on the pathway to 2050 but any delays in implementing key technologies will inevitably lead to cost increases. The 5thCarbon Budget recognizes the significance of heat and transport as well as power generation but we need to get CCS back on track, we need to get nuclear moving and there needs to be more emphasis on bioenergy. He said that delays in implementing CCS or new nuclear would lead to extra efforts and costs being needed in early decarbonization of the heat sector. Long term policies and signals were also needed to encourage development of sustainably grown biomass crops in the U.K. Short rotation forestry used for biomass has a growing time of at least 10 years so if we want a meaningful supply of U.K. sources crops by 2030 we need policy decisions soon that will encourage farmers to start planting.”

In its written response the ETI said it agrees with the Committee on Climate Change’s advice on the level of the Fifth Carbon Budget and points out that its own analysis of the most cost effective pathway for a UK low carbon energy transition, points to a 2030 level of U.K. emissions very similar to that recommended by the CCC in its advice to the government.

However, the ETI’s own whole energy system analysis highlights some areas that might want to be considered to complement the advice suggested by the CCC.

These include:

A stronger emphasis on the importance of progress in CCS before 2030 – the CCC’s advice implies that the importance of CCS mainly relates to achieving the U.K.’s 2050 targets. ETI analysis also shows that it is a technology vitally important for minimizing costs and risks associated with the U.K.’s decarbonization pathway even in the period before 2030. The success or failure to deploy CCS in the U.K. will have a fundamental influence on the decisions and costs around long-term infrastructure and energy system architecture, so ETI feels it is vital (and prudent) to achieve greater clarity on this before 2030.  ETI would advise the government that it should give priority and emphasis to promoting commercial scale deployment of CCS before 2030 as a cost reduction demonstration measure, as recommended in a recent submission to the Energy and Climate Change select committee.

 A stronger emphasis on building a UK bioenergy sector in the period to 2030 – ETI analysis points to the importance of bioenergy as one of the two (alongside CCS) most important system-wide opportunities to reduce CO2 emissions cost-effectively. ETI modelling highlights bioenergy could provide up to 10 percent of the UK’s primary energy needs by 2050, with the majority of this sourced domestically thereby substantially reducing the costs of meeting carbon targets and significantly growing the agricultural bio-crop industry in the U.K.  ETI would advise the government to give the development of the U.K. bioenergy sector a greater emphasis.

A measured approach to the decarbonization of transport, particularly light transport pre-2030 – the ETI agrees with the CCC’s advice around the need to continue efficiency improvement in vehicles by shifting towards ultra-low emission (e.g. electric and plug in hybrid) vehicles. ETI would caution that a rush to decarbonize transport, particularly light transport, could risk imposing significantly higher costs on UK consumers and businesses.

Details of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee’s Inquiry can be found here

The ETI response can be found here