Last week I attended an Energy Institute debate on the subject “Meeting the Carbon Budgets – how “disruptive” technologies could be game changers towards a low carbon future.” The eminent speakers gave an overview of the challenges arising from the Paris agreement in 2015 and focused specifically on large-scale nuclear versus small modular reactors (“SMR”s) and carbon capture and storage (“CCS”). What was absolutely clear, demonstrated in the chart below, is that a wide deployment of CCS is assumed to be a requirement in meeting carbon targets.
This strikes me as being problematic, as I was under the impression that CCS was not technologically viable – in the UK there have now been 3 attempts to launch major CCS schemes and each one has been cancelled. However, there is a huge amount of hype around CCS and a firm belief among policy makers that CCS will be a the single most important factor in halting climate change, as evidenced by the PICC scenarios. In this post I will explore this gap and try to understand whether the issue is one of perception, or whether CCS really is either not technologically feasible or commercially viable.