Britain pledges 20 billion pounds to capture carbon emissions

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will invest 20 billion pounds ($24 billion) over the next 20 years in projects to capture and store carbon dioxide (C02), the government said on Friday, as part of efforts to meet climate goals and create jobs.

FILE PHOTO: British Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt talks to a television crew outside the BBC headquarters in London, Britain November 18, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls//File Photo/File Photo

A report by Britain’s climate advisers on Thursday said technology that filters planet-warming carbon from industrial smokestacks before it reaches the atmosphere has a crucial role as Britain aims to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050.

The investment, to be set out in next Wednesday’s budget as part of what the government is calling a “clean energy reset” will “drive forward projects that aim to store 20-30 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2030, equal to the emissions from 10-15 million cars,” Friday’s statement from the government’s Treasury department said.

Britain last year held its first licensing round to enable companies to store captured carbon emissions in the North Sea and attracted bids from oil companies including BP and Equinor.

“The UK has enough carbon capture capacity to store over a century and half of national annual CO2 emissions, making it one of the most attractive carbon capture markets on earth,” the statement said.

The Treasury also said it will launch a competition for the country’s first small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) and that the government’s “Great British Nuclear” body will select sites for potential projects, and remove cost, uncertainty, and bureaucratic barriers for manufacturers.

Britain aims to replace its ageing nuclear power stations as all but one of the plants, which generate around 13% of the country’s electricity, are due to close by 2030.

Large-scale nuclear projects with huge up-front costs have struggled to attract investment, putting the focus on smaller, cheaper reactors.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in the Treasury statement said the government’s plan would help to lower energy bills, while fulfilling government promises to grow the economy.

He also said it would add to security of supply, echoing comments from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during talks in France on Friday when the two countries agreed to work together on energy, including nuclear power.

The government has already committed 210 million pounds to Rolls-Royce for its 500-million pound SMR programme, but the company told Reuters last month the cash for the SMR would run out by the end of 2024.

($1 = 0.8284 pounds)

Reporting By Susanna Twidale; editing by Barbara Lewis