The Labour party wants to make carbon capture and storage (CCS) a major plank of UK environmental policy and use it to decarbonise industry.
Shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex accused the Government of "squandering" progress on development of the process today as he published a position paper setting out the party's plans to boost the uptake of a technology still in its infancy.
Should they win the next election, the party will add CCS to the Green Investment Bank’s four current core sectors when its current framework expires in 2016, according to the paper, as well as ensuring that the process of electricity market reform currently underway is conducted in a way that does not prejudice against CCS in favour of other low-carbon technologies such as renewables and nuclear.
To avoid bottlenecks in the roll-out of CCS due to high initial costs that could slow development of storage sites and pipelines, the current Government’s proposed North Sea regulator, being created in the wake of the Wood Review into the future of the offshore sector, will be obliged to examine storage potential and help facilitate future projects.
Labour will also focus on encouraging the uptake of CCS in carbon-intensive industries, particularly those where carbon is produced from industrial processes rather than fuel use, potentially through the creation of regional CCS clusters to allow companies to share transportation and storage infrastructure.
"This technology offers perhaps the only means of decarbonising some of our key industrial processes for which the consumption of fossil fuels is essential,” said Greatrex.
"We can derive electricity from the wind, but we will never make steel from sunshine. The industrial applications of CCS have been chronically ignored by the coalition- Labour are clear that this will be a priority in Government.
"Regional clusters of industrial and power users of CCS can demonstrate that decarbonisation is not at odds with robust industrial activity, all whilst helping to geographically rebalance our economy.
"This undoubted potential will only be unlocked if the CCS industry can demonstrate a clear trajectory of cost reduction. CCS has a limited future as a high-cost decarbonisation option."
The report, Carbon Capture and Storage: Labour Party Position Paper, is available online.