UK to allocate £1bn per year for carbon capture technology

Government hopes new projects can store 20 to 30 million tonnes of CO2 annually by 2030

In 2021, the UK reached a total of 505 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. PA
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The UK government has announced a new plan to funnel about £1 billion a year into technology that can help capture carbon emissions before they are released into the atmosphere.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is expected next week to set out what he promises to be a “clean energy reset”, with extra money for carbon capture and new promises on nuclear power.

However in an announcement on Friday evening, the Treasury promised nothing new to help wind or solar developers.

Earlier this week, the government’s official advisers in the Climate Change Committee forecast that about 70 per cent of British electricity would come from solar and wind farms by 2035.

Next Wednesday, Mr Hunt is expected to announce the biggest ever investment in carbon capture technology.

The government will push £20 billion ($24 billion) into the technology over the next 20 years, a move it claimed could help create up to 50,000 jobs in the sector.

Part of the money will come from the government, but it will also be funded through energy bills.

It is hoped that the projects the money funds can capture and store 20 to 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year by 2030.

For comparison, in 2021, the UK reached a total of 505 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, which includes methane and other greenhouse gases.

The government also promised to “rapidly” announce the winners of a competition to build small nuclear power plants in the UK — so-called small modular reactors.

It said it plans to “match a proportion of private investment”, without revealing any further details.

Mr Hunt said: “Without government support, the average household energy bill would have hit almost £4,300 this year, which is why we stepped in to save a typical household £1,300 on their energy bills this winter.

“We don’t want to see high bills like this again, it’s time for a clean energy reset. That is why we are fully committing to nuclear power in the UK, backing a new generation of small modular reactors, and investing tens of billions in clean energy through carbon capture.

“This plan will help drive energy bills down for households across the country and improve our energy security whilst delivering on one of our five promises to grow the economy.”

Energy Secretary Grant Shapps said: “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has demonstrated to the world the vital importance of increasing our energy security and independence — powering more of Britain from Britain and shielding ourselves from the volatile fossil fuels market.

“Already a global leader in offshore wind power, we now want to do the same for the UK’s nuclear and carbon capture industries, which in turn will help cut the wholesale electricity prices to amongst the lowest in Europe.

“Today’s funding will play an integral role in delivering that, helping us further towards our net-zero targets and creating green jobs across the country.”

Updated: March 10, 2023, 10:40 PM