Research

CCUS must be safe and it must work, ministers told

Carbon capture must be safe and effective in reducing CO2 emissions, members of the public have told the government.

A study of the attitudes of more than 100 people in five UK cities concluded today that the technology could play a role in achieving the UK’s target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

But it revealed concerns about the cost of carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS). Many participants felt CCUS must have a significant impact on CO2 emissions to justify its cost.

The onshore hydrocarbon industry is relying on CCUS to support continued extraction of oil and gas. The technology would also be needed to convert methane from existing sites into blue hydrogen.

The government has said CCUS would play an essential role in meeting climate change goals. It would, ministers have said, help to decarbonise the hardest-to-reach industries and provide low carbon power.

The study, commissioned by the business department, recruited participants in four areas where CCUS may be implemented (Aberdeen, Teesside, Liverpool, and Port Talbot) and from one city where this was unlikely (Nottingham).

The participants took part in seven online workshops from 1 October 2020-10 November 2020.  They were asked to develop criteria that the government should consider for CCUS implementation.

Safety first

According to the research, support for CCUS was explicitly conditional on it being safe. Participants were most concerned about the safety of storing CO2 under the seabed and about risks to the environment.

There were also worries about the transport of CO2, as well as leaks, earthquakes and harm to marine wildlife.

They wanted the entire CCUS process, including decommissioning, to be safe. Safety features should be supported by strong evidence and explicitly and accessibly communicated.

A small group was strongly opposed to any role for CCUS in achieving net zero. Their attitudes hardened during the study.

They felt that CCUS would tackle the symptoms, rather than the causes of global warming, describing it as a sticking plaster. Some said CCUS would allow the continuation of CO2 emissions and considered it a stop gap that would buy time to end CO2 emissions in other ways.

According to the study, more participants were comfortable about the deployment of CCUS in the UK generally than in their local area.

Views on national deployment were shaped by their opinions on whether CCUS was a desirable solution for reaching net zero.

Views on local deployment were influence by local considerations. Participants identified risks to the environment, as well as safety concerns, noise and disruption during construction and the loss of jobs resulting from decommissioning.

Other conclusions from the project included:

  • CCUS contracts should be awarded to ethical companies with a proven record of delivering similar projects
  • There should be oversight and regulation of all stages of CCUS projects, independent on government and industry
  • CCUS projects should create jobs for local people. Participants in Aberdeen thought CCUS could replace jobs lost in the oil and gas industry.
  • There should be inclusive and meaningful engagement with local communities directly affected by CCUS about the risks and costs

Link to study

11 replies »

  1. I am surprised that no-one said that CCUS should only be used to extend the use of any processes using fossil fuels (or carbon) processes if there is no better alternative using clean green renewable energy. With steel-making for example there are better alternatives. Maybe someone did say that(?).
    Also that it should be paid for by the company not by us. Our money should instead go to finance green alternatives.
    CCUS is obviously being pushed by fossil fuel companies to prolong the use of fossil fuels. I hope they were aware of that too.

    • The proposal to research Novel Carbon Capture Useage and Storage (CCUS) is not even established as being possible, let alone proven or effective in any way.

      In fact the GOV.UK site below is only offering:- £19.5 million in grant funding will be available for projects developing novel CCUS technology and processes that reduce the cost of deployment.

      Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) Innovation 2.0 competition: guidance and how to apply
      https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ccus-innovation-20-competition

      The prospect of having any technology at all that can effectively capture carbon and theoretically to put it back in the ground again, is far outweighed by not taking the offending oil and gas out of the ground in the first place. The upshot is that research funding for as yet unknown projects to develop novel CCUS is effectively to make the tax payer pay twice for the taking the offending oil and gas that produces the carbon in the first place and then making the tax payer pay again for research and unknown processes which are as yet undiscovered, just in order to put it back in the ground again.

      Is there any similar funding offered to invest all that waste of money and put research in place for renewable and non polluting technology in energy production and use that avoids the need for novel CCUS at all? Both the exploration and the production of oil and gas is wasted money in global climate and ecological terms and is further wasted in offering yet more funds to research and produce novel CCUS.

      Its far more sensible to invest and expand all the alternatives of non polluting, and less polluting methods of energy production that will solve the problem for once and for all.

      There is also much evidence to suggest that it is not carbon that is the problem with the growing evidence of climate destruction. The evidence is that the real causes of anthropogenic climate destruction is the industrial attitude of governments and corporations that treats all natural and ecological resources as an open invitation to exploit and destroy as if there are no consequences.

      So, its pay once researching and developing better non polluting energy production and use technology than pay twice for processes that cause the problem in the first place.

      That is a true realistic case for mathematics, science, and monetary proposals that trumps (for want of a better word) the proposed novel CCUS nonsense that is only intended to extend the deteriorating life of the offending fossil fuel industry.

      • CO2 capture is a relatively easy process that has been used for many decades in the chemical industry. It is commonly used in various renewable industries including Ethanol and Bio Methane manufacturing. In the US over 40% of the CO2 used in the food industry is supplied from the Ethanol manufacturing industry.

        There were 26 operational large-scale carbon capture and storage facilities around the world as of 2020, along with a further 3 in the late stages of construction, 13 in the advanced development stage and 21 in the early development stage.

        The 26 operational CCS plants remove CO2 mainly from oil refineries, gas processing, steel manufacturing, Hydrogen production and bio energy plants.

        The largest operational CCS plant is capable of capturing and storing 7 million metric tons of CO2 per annum.

        In most of the 26 operational CCS plants, the CO2 is used for enhanced oil recovery and remains stored in the depleted oil reservoirs.

    • Sorry, adam, my money should go where it will have quickest, and most economic impact. If that is green renewable energy, then they need to make their case for my money. Looking at the Swansea Lagoon situation, (and I quite like the idea) they have failed miserably on both counts-and, they have not obtained local support-when you consider the “local” bit of supplying the quarrying.

      (But, I have a heat pump!)

      There have been too many situations where our money has been squandered, and some have become very rich, on poor green renewable energy. Remember Cash for Ash?? Plus many more, including house owners who can not sell their houses after leasing their roofs for solar panels and now find their ownership of their property is an issue.

      There needs to be tight control over any new schemes that such disasters are avoided, otherwise our money will dry up very quickly, as people vote accordingly.

    • There is also now evidence that destruction of the Amazonian rainforests has transformed the Amazon from a greenhouse gas sink, into a greenhouse gas emitter. Again its the destruction of the Earths natural climate and ecological balances that is causing worldwide climate destuction. The earth has long developed natural resources of heat, cold, carbon, methane, or oxygen production and absorbtion that are finely balanced.

      Through greed for power and profit, and by ignoring the inevitable consequences, the few that control the industrial processes and technological abilities are breaking those fragile balances to a point of no return. The natural balnces and heat, cold, carbon and greenhouse gas sinks have become unable to absorb the results of unprecedented destruction of the Earths natural ecological systems.

      https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/amazon-rainforest-now-emits-more-greenhouse-gases-it-absorbs-180977347/

      It remains to be seen if, or when, these patently obvious destuctions of the Earths natural balances becomes obvious even to those who are apparenty blind to the consequences of their actions.

      Time will tell. Providing of course, there is enough time left for man to do anything that can hope to reverse the present destructive trend. How long will it take before common sense finally prevails?

  2. I am sceptical about CCUS, seeing this as the non-solution favoured by the industry for obvious reasons. In the first place CCUS seems not to be carbon neutral, nor is there time for us to render CCUS safe whilst continuing polluting with CCUS as the intended solution. As Mann points out. “it could be decades before the efficacy of true long-term carbon burial could be established.” Stop new sources of polluting immediately whilst working on industry-funded CCUS – this would be much less attractive to the industry, I imagine. As I’ve opined before, to develop new sources of methane to power a hydrogen answer is nonsense. ‘Henry’s’ alternative means of production exists.
    For the industry, the main aim remains, continue the development of fossil fuels. Let’s not kid ourselves! Profit through fossil fuel exploitation is their raison d’être. The industry must change direction.

    • Yes. Well said too Iaith1720, yes, both of us have the same thoughts on the novel CCUS proposed research offer by GOV.UK. Good to know we have a consensus of views isnt it.

      • Why?

        Are you about to crowd fund an alternative approach?

        I suspect until £billions, or £ trillions, are offered to the consensus, then, it will be down to others to fund.

        And cutting out big chunks of industry from producing solutions is just dogma. The rest of society, especially the young, will soon find a large burden when asked to pay off the costs of Covid.

      • Talking of alternative renewable and non polluting energy production innovations, in April 2021, Orbital Marine Power initiated the O2 Tidal Turbine project undergoing tests in Orkney in Scotland.

        World’s most powerful tidal turbine : Launched April 2021

        Tidal Tubines overcome the the intermittency and unpredictability problems that conventional wind turbines are subject to, also ocean water is 800 times more dense than air and hence are far more efficient in energy production terms than wind turbine projects. The turbine blades can be reverse oriented to take advantage of tidal movement in both directions, are not subject to expensive concrete and structures as represented by tidal barriers systems which are expensive and difficult to maintain. This 02 Tidal turbine is the third project produced by Orkney based Orbital Marine and is planned to be placed in the ideal location where the tidal flows are strongest.

        There is a proposal for a similar project to be built for the Isle Of Wight in the South of the United Kingdom. UK is ideally suited for tidal Turbine power generation being an Island surrounded by tidal waters.
        I’m sure that the good people in the Isle Of Wight who object to the UKOG proposals, will be only too pleased to welcome a Tidal Turbine generator stationed locally which would have little if any impact on their ecology and tourist basis of their economy. Rather that is, than the much objected to UKOG proposed oil and gas project with all its associated dangers of detrimental ecological and tourist impact.

  3. Yes, the Solent has a double high tide because of the IOW.

    The whole area has also just been announced as a Freeport, so, between the return of the cruise liner traffic and the expansion of the ports at Portsmouth and Southampton there may be some restriction upon bits of ocean left to stick other structures in, or on!

    However, if the numbers of oil tankers puffing into Fawley were reduced via usage of locally produced oil replacing some of them, then there may be a slot somewhere-except, the sailing community may not support, and they have a great deal of power due to their contribution to local income, and tourism.

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