BECCS critical to achieving a net zero Britain

Jun 26 2019

A paper from the Renewable Energy Association (REA) outlines a number of possible policy options to develop BECCS, including increasing the UK total carbon price to £50t/CO2 from 2020.

Bioenergy paired with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) technologies has the potential to play a critical role in meeting the UK’s net zero ambitions 

A new paper from the REA urges action to be taken on a number of levels to ensure progress in hard to decarbonise sectors

The paper outlines a number of possible policy options to develop BECCS, including increasing the UK total carbon price to £50t/CO2 from 2020 and introducing a mechanism which rewards negative emissions, such as tradeable allowances under an EU-linked UK emissions trading scheme (ETS).

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has stated that achieving net zero is not possible without a range of greenhouse gas removal strategies. BECCS, the capture and permanent storage of CO2 released in bioenergy processes, has a central role to play within this.

BECCS is already a prominent concept in the climate change debate due to its capacity to provide ‘negative emissions’, a net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, compensating for slower emission reductions in hard to decarbonise sectors. 

The REA’s paper explores a range of possible policy options that would advance BECCS and its wider co-benefits, including: increasing the UK total carbon price to £50t/CO2 from 2020 to promote rapid emission reductions; supporting BECCS in the Contracts for Difference auctions; and establishing demonstration projects at several scales that use the lowest carbon feedstocks.

The paper follows the publication of the second phase of REA’s Bioenergy Strategy, which identified BECCS as an important Strategic Opportunity for the UK, delivering 23 MtCO2e of carbon savings by 2032 essential to realising the 5th Carbon Budget and our net zero ambition.

The REA urges the Government to establish at least one commercial large-scale BECCS project and several smaller demonstration scale BECCS projects by the late 2020s in order to address residual emissions from hard to decarbonise sectors of the UK economy.

Samuel Stevenson, Policy Analyst at the REA and author of the paper commented, “According to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the UK will require Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) at scale in order to achieve net zero emissions by 2050."

“BECCS could play an important role in doing this cost-effectively and sustainably, reducing annual CO2 emissions in the UK by around ~6%, whilst also providing low carbon power, heat and additional co-benefits."

“Negative emissions technologies like BECCS will be needed in order to address the projected 90 - 130 MtCO2/yr ‘residual’ emissions in 2050 from difficult to decarbonise sectors such as agriculture, aviation and industry. It is estimated that BECCS could contribute between 24 – 51 MtCO2/yr towards this residual total by 2050." 

“However, if the UK wants to deploy BECCS and capitalise on its negative emissions, urgent action is required. Existing policy could be adapted to support BECCS, such as an increased, economy-wide carbon price, a mechanism which properly rewards negative emissions; and enabling BECCS projects to bid for a CfD.”

Renewable Energy Association

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