Consultation: Towards Carbon Capture and Storage

The UK government launched this consultation with the aim of preparing for and supporting the development and deployment of CCS, and seeking comments on the proposal for an EU directive on geological storage of carbon dioxide (see section on EU CCS Directive). The consultation was structured in 5 sections.

Stakeholders were asked their views on what measures should be adopted by the government to drive the development and deployment of CCS, with particular emphasis on the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) (Section 1).

The consultation document explained the main provisions of the draft directive and the concept of carbon capture readiness (CCR) under its Article 32 (Section 2).

Article 32 of the draft EU CCS directive inserted Article 9a into the Large Combustion Plants (LCP) Directive (Directive 2001/80/EC), and provided that operators of all combustion plants with an electrical generating capacity of 300 MW or more, and which fall within the scope of the LPC Directive, must assess whether certain conditions are fulfilled when they apply for a development consent. Those conditions were: that suitable storage sites are available and that retrofit with CO2 capture and transport facilities are technically feasible.

Once conformity to these conditions was confirmed, Member States' competent authorities had to require the developer to set aside suitable space to install equipment for capture and compression of CO2, making such installations 'carbon capture ready'. The draft directive did not impose an obligation upon all new plants to be carbon capture ready, requiring only that operators applying for the construction of new combustion plants assess whether these conditions were fulfilled. Only if they were met, was CCR mandatory.

In April 2009, this CCR requirement embedded in Article 32 of the draft directive was confirmed in the final version of the Directive under Article 33. Article 33 also contains a reference to the 'economic feasibility' of capture and transport of CO2, as an additional requirement for the CCR test.

This consultation detailed the implications of the concept of CCR under the draft CCS directive and sought views on its meaning and implementation in England and Wales (Section 3). As a result of the responses, the UK government adopted a new CCR policy for England and Wales. The policy mandates CCR for all new combustion plants with an electrical generating capacity of 300 MW or more and under the scope of LCP Directive. This means that, when applying for development consent under this Directive, developers are required to show:

  • 'that sufficient space is available on or near the site to accommodate carbon capture equipment in the future;
  • the technical feasibility of retrofitting their chosen carbon capture technology;
  • that a suitable area of deep geological storage offshore exists for the storage of captured CO2 from the proposed power station;
  • the technical feasibility of transporting the captured CO2 to the proposed storage area; and
  • the likelihood that it will be economically feasible within the power station's lifetime, to link it to a full CCS chain, covering retrofitting of capture equipment, transport and storage.'

To fulfil these requirements, applicants must adopt a 'no barrier known approach' to future retrofit of CCS technologies.

This policy came into effect on 23 April 2009, despite the reluctance of some stakeholders who believed that the more flexible approach of the CCS Directive was a better option than a mandatory requirement.

The UK government confirmed that this new policy would apply to the consenting process for electricity generating stations under s.36 of the Electricity Act 1989. A dedicated consultation was therefore launched on draft guidance designed to help both existing and new applicants to understand and comply with these new requirements when applying for consent under section 36 (see Guidance on Carbon Capture Readiness and Applications under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989: a consultation).

Section 4 of the consultation document, jointly issued with the Scottish government, addressed: the licensing regime for CO2 storage in the UK offshore area; the conditions for transfer of liability; the inclusion of EOR activities under the scope of the ETS; the legitimacy of multiple uses (i.e. CCS and EOR) for the same sub-seabed area; and the extent and content of the financial security requirement. Finally the consultation dealt with issues such as the review of the storage permit, transport infrastructures and regulation for onshore CCS operations (Section 5).

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