Carbon capture and storage

The capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced, for example, by power stations and energy-intensive industry and its secure long-term storage. This research area includes air capture, transportation of CO2, permanent storage and utilisation options, and the integration of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies into current energy systems. Novel next-generation capture technologies are a major element. Research in this area should be related to the reduction of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

Over the current Delivery Plan period, we will maintain funding of the CCS research as a proportion of the EPSRC portfolio.

The Research Councils UK (RCUK) Energy Programme has previously recognised the significance of CCS research in the energy landscape and has therefore invested in the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre (UKCCSRC) to provide focus and co-ordination for underpinning CCS research and networking opportunities for the research community and stakeholders, as well as to develop CCS capacity within the UK.

The RCUK Energy Programme plans to:

  • Continue supporting a UK CCS Centre and CCS community in collaborating with industry, government, non-governmental organisations and other energy stakeholders
  • Provide evidence for developing and delivering an effective CCS strategy for efficient and significant impact. This includes working with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to consider a socio-economic, political and environmental approach when addressing technical issues surrounding cost reduction, risk reduction and integrating carbon capture using a whole-systems approach
  • Ensure capacity and capability are available for the future of CCS by training and knowledge transfer via early-career and established-career fellowships.
Highlights:

CCS is an evolving area of research that is expected to play a significant role in helping the UK meet its energy requirements and environmental targets at least cost. The research area features in a number of official documents, including energy reports and roadmaps that feed into future UK energy strategies. (Evidence source 1-8) A number of options to reduce emissions are actively being considered by government and industry, the majority of which depend on CCS - for example, use of hydrogen in heating and transport, and bioenergy combined with CCS (BECCS). (Evidence source 4,7)

In this context, CCS is considered an area of critical importance to meet the UK's climate targets at a reasonable cost, while also meeting increasing energy demands. (Evidence source 1,2,4,5) The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS, formally the Department of Energy and Climate Change) has stated that there is a need for insight into the cost and operability of CCS and carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) and for understanding the benefits of potential CCS/CCU technologies compared to current state-of-the-art methods. (Evidence source 6)

The RCUK Energy Programme recognises the multidisciplinary nature of this area and encourages the UK CCS Centre and the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Carbon Capture and Storage and Cleaner Fossil Energy to work closely to build and maintain capacity. UK capacity is further strengthened by collaborations with NERC, ESRC and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to ensure consideration of a whole-energy-system approach when addressing short, medium and long-term strategies to accelerate deployment and integration of CCS into the energy system.

The CCS research area naturally has close links with the Fossil Fuel Power Generation and Bioenergy research areas and Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) programme. Links with industry are clearly present where the energy sector recognises the importance of CCS in the energy landscape; industry would be keen to take steps forward if there were a reduction in political uncertainty and in the risk in investing in CCS.

Countries including the US, Mexico, China and Norway are keen to engage with the UK regarding CCS developments; this indicates the quality of the UK's unique research outputs in this field and its international standing. In particular, the pilot-scale advanced capture technology (PACT) facilities hosted by the University of Sheffield have drawn particular attention from the wider international community and are a key resource for CCS research.

Particularly aligns with Resilient and Productive Nation Outcomes and the following specific Ambitions:

R1: Achieve energy security and efficiency

Developments in CCS are considered to have a potentially significant impact on reducing UK greenhouse gas emissions, allowing the UK flexibility in continuing to use fossil fuels if required.

R2: Ensure a reliable infrastructure which underpins the UK economy

By designing and developing technologies that can be retrospectively fitted to existing fossil fuel power plants, the UK can continue using fossil fuel power (as required) and, at the same time, work towards environmental targets.

R5: Build new tools to adapt to and mitigate climate change

The concept of CCS and surrounding technologies aims to alleviate the negative effects of using fossil fuel resources.

P1: Introduce the next generation of innovative and disruptive technologies

By continuing CCS research, the cost of CCS technologies will decrease. This is expected to have a significant impact on policy, whereby a demonstrator programme will be initiated that has great potential to lead to innovative and disruptive products.

P3: Establish a new place for industry that is built upon a 'make it local, make it bespoke' approach

Deployment and implementation of CCS will ensure that there are affordable solutions to meet energy demand and enrich local communities. CCS research has the potential to refresh and positively disrupt the energy sector.

  1. Low Carbon Innovation Coordination Group (LCICG), Carbon Capture & Storage in the Power Sector: Technology Innovation Needs Assessment (TINA) (PDF), (2012).
  2. The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), Carbon Capture and Storage: Building the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Sector by 2030 - Scenarios and Actions (PDF), (2015).
  3. The Crown Estate, CCS Cost Reduction Taskforce: Final Report (PDF), (2013).
  4. Committee on Climate Change (CCC), Meeting Carbon Budgets: 2016 Progress Report to Parliament (PDF), (2016).
  5. Energy Research Partnership (ERP), Managing Flexibility Whilst Decarbonising the GB Electricity System (PDF), (2015).
  6. HM Treasury, Sustainability in the Spending Review (PDF), (2016).
  7. HM Government, The Carbon Plan: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions, 2013 (last update).
  8. Parliamentary Advisory Group on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) - Lowest Cost Decarbonisation for the UK: The Critical Role of CCS, (2016).

Other sources:

  • RCUK, RCUK Review of Energy 2010, (2010).
  • House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, The Future of Carbon Capture and Storage in the UK (Transcript), (2016).
  • Letter from Dr David Clarke, Chief Executive of ETI, to Angus MacNeil MP, (2016).

Research area connections

This diagram shows the top 10 connections between Research Areas within the EPSRC research portfolio. The depth of the segment relates to value of grants and the width of the segment relates to the number of grants shared by those two Research Areas. Please click to see the related Research Area rationale.

Maintain

We aim to maintain this area as a proportion of the EPSRC portfolio.

Visualising our Portfolio (VoP)
Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships.

EPSRC support by research area in Carbon capture and storage (GoW)
Search EPSRC's research and training grants.

Contact Details

In the following table, contact information relevant to the page. The first column is for visual reference only. Data is in the right column.

Name: Elizabeth Bent
Job title: Portfolio Manager
Department: Energy
Organisation: EPSRC
Telephone: 01793 444426