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The Humber LEP has welcomed a report that recommends collaborative working and a clear vision are key to ensuring the UK seizes the industrial and decarbonisation benefits of carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS).

In a report released on Thursday, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee stated that the Government should “move away from vague and ambiguous targets and give a clear policy direction.” This view has been supported by Chair of Humber LEP Lord Haskins, who previously spoke to the Committee about the many advantages of delivering CCUS in the Humber region. Regional energy company Drax, which would act as the anchor for any future Humber-based project, has also welcomed the report.

The Humber cluster is one of five that have been identified as well-suited to early CCUS deployment, and the report recommends that three industrial clusters should be appointed to adopt carbon capture by 2025, rather than one as previously proposed.

The report also suggests that the Government moves away from a competition for funding and instead recommends a collaborative approach that “promotes collaboration and benefits CCUS development across the UK”.

The report recommends that the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review take account not only of CCUS’ costs, but also its wider benefits – notably to support the sustainability of heavy industries, many of which are vital to the Humber and UK economies but face challenges under the requirements of the Climate Change Act.

Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) is a method of capturing harmful carbon emissions before they are released into the atmosphere, and either storing it safely in underground rock formations or using it in other industrial processes such as drinks manufacturing.

The Humber has huge potential to exploit this technology due to local power station Drax, which is currently piloting the first bioenergy CCUS (BECCS) plant in Europe; the concentration of energy intensive industries which need such projects to support them to reach decarbonisation targets; and the proximity to the geological storage capacity under the North Sea.

In December, the Government set out an ambition for the world’s first “net-zero carbon” industrial cluster by 2040 to cut emissions, backed by up to £170 million funding.  The Humber is the largest of the six industrial clusters the Government has identified with high emissions, at some 12.6 megatons of CO2 every year.

Research commissioned by the LEP last year identified some of the actions required to reduce these emissions whilst ensuring the competitiveness of the region’s industries.  These are now being incorporated into the LEP’s forthcoming Energy Strategy and Local Industrial Strategy, which the Government has asked the LEP to produce.

Chair of Humber LEP, Lord Haskins, gave evidence to the BEIS Select Committee at a meeting in Teesside in January 2019 on behalf of the NP11 group of Northern Powerhouse LEPs, alongside other regional representatives from engineering membership body CATCH and Drax.

Welcoming the report’s findings, he said: “The Humber industrial cluster is vital to the UK economy.  With the highest emissions we can also deliver more sizeable benefits through CCUS than other regions, while creating carbon-negative energy, promoting clean growth, and supporting other major local employers to adapt and reduce their emissions.

“However, if the UK is to establish leadership in CCUS and experience the full benefits, then a more ambitious and collaborative approach between major industrial clusters like the Humber is required.

“We are therefore pleased that the Select Committee is supporting a move away from competition between the clusters and hope the Government will consider in response how it can expand its approach so that the potential of this opportunity can be maximised.”

Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO said: “Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet – but if we take steps now the UK could lead the world in pioneering the CCUS technologies needed to meet our climate targets. Supporting the development of the CCUS industry in the UK will generate jobs and economic growth here whilst creating new export opportunities, helping other countries to make the progress needed to meet global climate targets.

“Drax’s BECCS pilot plant has proven that the innovative carbon capture technology we’re using could be scaled up to create the world’s first negative emissions power station, helping to remove the gases that cause global warming from the atmosphere at the same time as electricity is produced.”