Select Committee on Science and Technology First Report


1. Climate change and energy policy are demanding ever more attention, both in the UK and abroad. The two-pronged challenge facing the UK Government was articulated by the Prime Minister Tony Blair in his keynote speech to the 2005 Labour Party Conference:

    "Global warming is too serious for the world any longer to ignore its danger or split into opposing factions on it.

    And for how much longer can countries like ours allow the security of our energy supply to be dependent on some of the most unstable parts of the world?"[1]

The Government's other priority of guaranteeing the affordability of energy is, in part, a function of security of supply. These UK concerns are set against an international backdrop of burgeoning consumption of fossil fuels in countries such as India and China. The rapid growth in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions forecast from these countries imparts a sense of urgency to efforts to develop solutions which can mitigate CO2 emissions without impeding economic growth.

2. We decided to launch an inquiry into Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) to examine the potential for these technologies to make a significant contribution to both meeting the Government's objectives of reducing domestic CO2 emissions and securing energy supply, and to reducing emissions associated with fossil fuel combustion in China and India. We announced our inquiry into CCS on 21 July 2005, inviting evidence on the following points:

  • The viability of CCS as a carbon abatement technology for the UK, in terms of:
    • The current state of R&D in, and deployment of, CCS technologies;
    • Projected timescales for producing market-ready, scalable technologies;
    • Cost;
    • Geophysical feasibility; and
    • Other obstacles or constraints.
  • The UK Government's role in funding CCS R&D and providing incentives for technology transfer and industrial R&D in CCS technology.[2]

3. In the course of this inquiry we held three oral evidence sessions, during which we heard from:

  • Officials from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), HM Treasury and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA);
  • The British Geological Survey;
  • The UK Carbon Capture and Storage Consortium;
  • Air Products Plc, BP Plc, E.ON UK Plc and Alstom Power;
  • Friends of the Earth, Green Alliance and Greenpeace; and
  • Minister for Energy, Malcolm Wicks.

4. The transcripts of these sessions are published with this Report, together with the 40 written submissions received in response to our call for evidence and requests for supplementary information. In addition, a private seminar with CCS experts was held at the outset of the inquiry. We undertook visits to E.ON UK's Ratcliffe power station, the British Geological Survey's offices in Keyworth and BP's offices in Sunbury. We are grateful to all those who have contributed to this inquiry and assisted in the visit arrangements. We would also like to place on record our thanks to our specialist advisers: Professor Stuart Haszeldine, Professor of Geology at the University of Edinburgh and the UK Energy Research Centre, and Dr Paul Freund, one of the convening lead authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on CCS.

1   See Back

2   Press notice 4 of Session 2005-06 Back

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