Our old power stations are closing, and will need to be replaced. That represents a great opportunity to invest in low carbon energy, creating jobs, saving carbon and developing UK knowhow and components to export to other countries which also need to build new energy generation.
The UK is now leading Europe with two commercial scale CCS projects in development, which are part of the Government’s Top 40 Infrastructure projects. Taken together, these CCS projects could provide over 2000 jobs during construction, reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by around 3 million tonnes a year, and provide clean electricity for over 1 million homes.
Today I am signing a multi-million pound contract with Shell to develop their CCS project at Peterhead gas power station – the first project of its kind anywhere in the world.
This a significant step in our CCS Programme, following a similar agreement in December 2013 with the White Rose CCS project – to develop a new coal power CCS plant at Drax’s site in Yorkshire.
CCS is also the only way to reduce emissions from many heavy industries such as cement and steel factories. CCS could protect those industries against rising carbon costs and safeguard their competitiveness. The chemicals and steel cluster in Tees Valley recognises this, which is why Government awarded them up to £1m in their recent City Deal to take forward their CCS proposals.
The capture, transport and storage technologies which make up CCS are not new. What is new are the commercial and legal frameworks which are needed to persuade companies to invest in this technology. We think the only way to develop those frameworks is by investing in the first commercial-scale projects.
The coalition Government has set aside £1bn, plus further funding once the projects are operational from the changes we are making to the electricity market, and investing around £100m of that now to support these first projects.
But our vision for CCS in the UK does not stop at these first projects. We envisage three phases of CCS in the UK – with a second phase of projects possibly following Peterhead and White Rose projects on a similar timescale. We are already in discussions with the industry on what support is needed to bring forward their CCS projects – which by 2050 could generate more than 20% of our electricity.
It is a significant investment for a significant prize. Bringing forward CCS will save us more than £30bn a year by 2050. It offers the opportunity to use our indigenous resources, both conventional and unconventional, without the damaging carbon emissions. Achieving an affordable, secure, low carbon energy mix with renewable and nuclear energy alone will be much more difficult and much more expensive.
And CCS could create thousands of jobs – with a world-wide market worth £100bn by 2050. Innovative UK based companies have already started seizing these opportunities:
In addition, our world class £125m R&D programme is developing better, cheaper CCS technologies – including finding new uses for CO2 rather than simply storing it deep under the seabed. Econic, a small company based in London, has recently secured £5m from industry partners to continue work funded by DECC to develop new plastics which use CO2.
The UK is not alone in recognising the importance of CCS. The first projects in US and Canada are already under construction, and other countries such as China are increasingly looking at how to take forward CCS.
Europe is in danger of falling behind, despite many countries still relying on fossil fuels as part of their energy systems. We have been working with our European partners for an ambitious emissions reduction target for Europe, with the flexibility to tackle climate change in the most cost-effective way, so that British consumers aren’t paying over the odds to go green.
As the world wakes up to the effects of climate change, 194 countries have agreed to negotiate a new global deal by 2015 to reduce emissions. By demonstrating our leadership on developing and deploying CCS, by learning from the experiences of other countries committed to CCS, and by sharing information and knowledge, we can ensure that this low-carbon technology, along renewable and nuclear energy, will help tackle the challenges of powering the planet whilst protecting the climate.