Pursuing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology in the UK could create a new industry worth £15bn-£35bn by 2030 employing tens of thousands of people, a report from the industry and trade unions has found.
It could also eventually cut energy bills by about £80 a year, according to the study by an independent consultancy for the CCS Association, which represents the industry, and the TUC.
CCS involves removing carbon dioxide from power stations and large industrial installations, compressing it and piping it under the ground. While proponents say the method is technically feasible, there are no commercial projects on power stations around the world as yet, though there are some small-scale trials.
If the UK is to carry on using fossil fuels such as coal and gas beyond 2030, it will be essential to cut greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with carbon budgets and the need to tackle climate change.
According to the report from the CCS Association, which represents the industry, and the TUC, the market for CCS could be worth between £15bn and £35bn in total to the UK by 2030.
This could also reduce energy bills by 2030 by about £80 a year for households by then, according to the report – however, this calculation is very uncertain given the difficulty of forecasting energy prices even a few years out.
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said: “CCS offers a way to meet our environmental targets, while creating thousands of skilled, well-paid jobs and transforming regional economies. New CCS plants would create thousands of new jobs and safeguard many more in energy-intensive industries such as steel, chemicals and cement.
UK carbon capture industry potential estimated at up to £35bn by 2030