However, its progress has stalled in recent years with concerns around cost, complexity and potential health risks.
Last week, members of the Aspectus PR Energy team attended the Energy Institute lecture ‘CSS: Developing a cost-effective scheme for the UK’. Delivered by Andrew Green of the Energy Technology Institute (ETI), the lecture put forth an analysis of CCS’s current position in the UK, as well as its possible role in the future.
Green highlighted some interesting results from the ETI’s Energy System Modelling Environment (ESME): a pathway optimisation model focussing on long-term pathways to predict how the energy industry will look further out. It predicts that CCS has the potential to save the UK’s power industry £30 billion by 2050.
Moreover, the CCS Association believes the technology could create 100,000 UK jobs by 2030 and cut CO2 emissions by a third by 2050.
2,000 of these jobs are expected to stem from a regional CCS hub in North East England, the creation of which moved one step closer on Monday with the announcement of up to €300 million funding for the country’s flagship White Rose project located in Yorkshire. The funding, from the European Commissions’NER300 clean energy programme, is a crucial part of the puzzle of how to get CCS up and running in the UK, though the developers point out that its success is still contingent on the government implementing supportive market mechanisms and incentives.
However, the Yorkshire project is the exception. The broader CCS story is one of various PR disasters across Europe in recent years and has resulted in an untrusting public and caution from investors. Certainly, the CCS industry’s failure to educate the public and win friends has created a hostile environment.
For example, the ROAD project in the Netherlands has been left scrambling for the final €130 to €150 million in investment it requires – a drop in the ocean when compared to most large energy infrastructure project budgets – and you can’t help but wonder whether a more amiable atmosphere might have greased the wheels a little and helped pull in those final few Euros.
Certainly, it’s clear that in order for CCS to realise its potential in the UK, it needs better support from a PR and communications perspective. Targeting potential investors, businesses, and the general public with campaigns that both promote its benefits and allay fears about the risks, would go a long way to liberating CCS from its current commercial hiatus.