The Government has published its Industrial Strategy today.
One of the ‘grand challenges’ it identifies is “maximising the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to green growth”- we welcome this ambition, as there is a demand from global industry for low carbon supply chains, so countries whose economies can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions will be at an advantage. However, we are disappointed not to see sector deals for any of the high-emissions industries which rely on fossil fuels, such as cement, ceramics and chemicals. This suggests a lack of coherence between the Industrial Strategy and the Clean Growth Strategy, and we wonder how the government intends to decarbonise these industries.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is currently the only way to reduce the emissions from energy-intensive industries, allowing them to thrive in a low carbon economy. It is the least cost method of decarbonising the economy: it can be done now, and with existing equipment. While we are glad to see that the Government took our advice and included carbon capture and storage in the strategy, it should have been afforded a much greater role, and we hope to see future sector deals to tackle fossil fuel-reliant industries..
CCS is an industrial opportunity in itself - an area where the UK has unique advantages over other countries, which the government should nurture and develop. The UK has excellent geological resources for carbon dioxide storage in the North Sea basin; a large and mature offshore hydrocarbon industry with skills and experience directly applicable to CCS delivery; and existing onshore and offshore hydrocarbon pipeline infrastructure appropriate and available for conversion to use for carbon dioxide (CO2) collection and transport to offshore storage. All of these mean that we are well placed to develop an industry that provides a service not only within the UK, but to our European neighbours as well.
We are pleased to see the government recognise the need for investment in infrastructure, which they rightly describe as “one of the most significant ways the government can influence the economy.” However, this needs to include the infrastructure to support clean growth, including for transporting and storing CO2 – and this needs joined-up action across government. Existing pipelines that could be repurposed to support carbon storage (at significantly lower cost than building new infrastructure to transport CO2) are currently on schedule to be decommissioned: if this goes ahead, it would not only waste significant amounts of money already spent on investigation, it would greatly increase the cost of the first CO2 storage projects in the UK. We hope that the Industrial Strategy can ensure that this vital infrastructure is not lost.
Finally, the strategy talks about the Local Energy Programme, with reference to the Teesside Collective’s proposals for a carbon capture, utilisation and storage cluster: we are keen to work with government and industry to clarify how the strategy will support this ‘cluster’ approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and how this could work in other industrial clusters, such as Grangemouth.