A ‘Clean’ Breath of Life for Carbon Capture Use and Storage in the UK?


In its recent policy position published this week (The OGA’s role in the energy transition) the Oil and Gas Authority stated that when taking decisions it would consider ‘as appropriate, re-use and recycling opportunities, in particular with regard to carbon capture usage and storage projects, as part of the cessation of production and decommissioning processes’. This raises the profile, once again, of Carbon Capture Use and Storage (CCUS), shelved in 2015 when a UK Government backed £1billion competition was dramatically dropped. Many believe that this was short-sighted and the re-emergence of CCUS is now being welcomed.

Fossil Fuels are an essential foundation of the world’s energy mix and, as repugnant as their continued depletion and combustion may be, are necessary evils to ensure continued supply of one of the Holy Trinity elements required to sustain existence: water, food and energy. If global Governments unilaterally and collectively ceased Fossil Fuel (FF) energy production, Renewable Energy Technologies (RETs) at their present level would be unable to meet today’s energy demands, notwithstanding the forecast increased demand to 2050. The World Commission on Environment and Development in its 1987 Report predicted that there would be continued ‘heavy future reliance’ on FFs which damage the atmosphere and threaten sustainability and did not advocate that FFs should not be used, but urged that responsible stewardship and regard for technological development be employed. This statement remains starkly valid today.

If, in its quest for an answer to the question of how to battle Climate Change, the Global Community disregards CCUS as a viable option, a significant potential mitigation opportunity will be wasted. No single current technology, be it RETs or CCUS provide the definitive answer. Climate Change still requires a ‘global and collective response’ and no option to achieve abatement should be missed.

Carbon Capture and Storage is not the Redeemer of the Climate, and its proponents do not claim that it is the panacea for Climate Change. Nor is it the Antithesis of Sustainability; CCUS technologies provide a cleaner breathing-space to develop RETs and it would be fool-hardy and perhaps arrogant to challenge their latent ability to contribute to the global fight against Climate Change-their deployment should be embraced in the very spirit of sustainability.

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