LONDON (Reuters) - A recent global gas glut means Britain should fund carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) for gas-fired as well as coal-fired power plants, the government’s chief scientific adviser told Reuters.
Backing advice in June from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), John Beddington on Tuesday called on the British government to fund at least one gas-fired CCS project to capture and bury climate-warming carbon emissions.
Britain plans to fund four demonstration CCS projects by 2020. E.ON and Iberdrola-owned Scottish Power are still competing for the first, and the government has not yet set the details for the other three.
“One of the things the Committee on Climate Change has pointed out and recommended quite strong is that one of the CCS plants we’re thinking about putting money in to should be gas-based, with which I completely concur,” Beddington said.
“The change in the volume and the economy of natural gas from shale has completely changed the market, so there is potential for significant supplies of gas, which with CCS would be extremely effective technology.”
Although still unproven on a commercial scale, CCS is seen as a key weapon in the fight against climate change, and Britain hopes to be able to export CCS technology to big fossil burners such as China and India.
Britain has also set its own ambitious national target of reducing its emissions by 34 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels and plans to use CCS to help achieve this aim.
Beddington said the advent of U.S. gas extraction from shale formations over the past few years meant a lot more gas was available globally, and this made it an even more attractive fuel for generating power.
He added that Britain was still in a good position to be first to develop CCS despite fears that other countries were starting to develop their own technology.
“We do have within the UK a fairly important lead in some of the technologies and understanding of what CCS is going to involve,” Beddington said.
Other industry figures at the Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit also called for Britain to focus more on gas CCS projects.
Graeme Sweeney, head of carbon dioxide at Shell, also called at the Summit for one of Britain’s CCS projects to involve gas.
“It is important globally to see CCS in association with gas. We need the option to reduce emissions in gas plants to zero.”
While others said all four CCS projects are needed to meet Britain’s 2020 environmental targets, but they feared funding could be cut as the UK government pledges to reduce public spending.
“It’s important we stick with those four projects,” said David Kennedy, chief executive of Climate Change Committee. “That is what we need to do to positions ourselves well for the 2020s.
Reporting by Kwok W. Wan, Gerard Wynn, Nina Chestney, Daniel Fineren; editing by Jane Baird