The CCUS Advisory Group, backed by £1m of funding, includes representatives from Shell, BP, Tata Steel, Drax, and National Grid

Leading players from across the UK’s carbon intensive energy, oil, and steel industries have joined together to form a new government-backed advisory group, in a bid to accelerate the development of carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) technology.

The CCUS Advisory Group, which is backed by up to £1m of government and industry support, includes representatives from major corporates such as BP, Shell, Tata Steel, National Grid, Cadent, and Drax, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced yesterday.

CCUS technology is seen as key to decarbonising hard-to-abate sectors such as cement, steel, and energy production, by potentially capturing and storing or repurposing CO2 emissions generated in the process before they entering the atmosphere.

Carbon capture technology is currently being trialled at Drax’s biomass plant in North Yorkshire, in what the energy firm hopes will help pioneer further development in negative emissions technologies.

More broadly, however, CCUS has struggled to take off in the UK, with development costs seen as a major barrier.

As a result, the new industry-led CCUS group has been tasked with addressing these cost concerns by providing expert advice to the government on the financial frameworks needed to underpin investment and growth in the sector.

It will also provide advice on the potential incentives and regulations needed for the development of a UK market in CCUS, in support of the government’s ambition, announced in November, to have the UK’s first full carbon capture project up and running from the mid-2020s, it added.

The government has also confirmed £170m will go towards developing what it hopes to be the world’s first net zero cluster of heavy industrial plants by 2040, with CCUS expected to play a key role. Nevertheless, the funding figure pales in comparison to the £1bn CCS competition which was scrapped by the government in 2015 by then Chancellor George Osborne.

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry announced the new advisory body yesterday during a meeting of the government’s CCUS Council.

“The UK will continue to thrive as a world leader in clean growth technologies like carbon capture through our ambitious modern Industrial Strategy,” she said. “The new advisory group will help ensure that we take full advantage of the potential of this emerging industry, with a view to deploying the first CCUS facility in the UK from the mid-2020s.”

Among other issues and potential development barriers, the CCUS Advisory Group has also been given a brief to: examine risk allocation and risk management solutions; consider the delivery capabilities need to support deployment of the technology; assess the impacts of competitive pressure to drive cost reduction; and to provide estimated costings for prospective CCUS projects.

Luke Warren, chief executive of the UK’s Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA), welcomed the new partnership between industry and government, and called for 2019 to be the “year of action” to make sure the UK’s first CCUS project is commissioned by the mid-2020s.

“In the year when the government will consider how to achieve net zero emissions, all the evidence points to CCUS being essential if we are to have any hope of reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement,” he said. “The establishment of this new Advisory Group shows that government and industry are prepared to work together to make this happen, and the CCSA looks forward to supporting the government’s ambition of becoming a world leader in this crucial technology.”

In related news, US developer Carbon Engineering yesterday revealed it has raised $68m in a private investment round to help demonstrate and commercialise its carbon dioxide removal technology.

The firm said the funding was the largest investment made into Direct Air Capture, a technology which it claims can suck CO2 directly from the atmosphere at a cost of less than $100 per tonne.