CO2Chem: Response to the UK £1bn CCS competition being axed

Carbon Dioxide Utilisation treating CO2 as commodity to gain profit, not as waste

The UK Government has announced it is axing its GBP1 billion competition to develop “carbon capture and storage” technology on power stations.

In an announcement to the London Stock Exchange on 25th Nov 2015, the Government said the GBP1 billion funding for the scheme – which aims to develop technology which can capture the polluting carbon emissions from fossil fuel power stations – was no longer available.

The decision means the competition, which had two bidders – the White Rose scheme in Yorkshire and the Peterhead scheme in Scotland, cannot proceed on its current basis, the Government said.

Following the announcement, Prof. Peter Styring, Chair of the CO2Chem Network, released the following statement:

“This came completely out of the blue. The timing was strange given that COP21 starts in a couple of days. However, it is not completely surprising given a similar pattern for CCS across Europe. The problem has always been that CCS treats CO2 as a waste that needs disposal and waste treatment incurs a cost. We have been working for a long time on Carbon Dioxide Utilisation (CDU) through the EPSRC Grand Challenge Network CO2Chem of which I am Director. The basis of CDU is that CO2 is treated as a commmodity, a single carbon feedstock. This ultimately leads to a commercial product that will yield a profit. Sunfire and Covestro (formerly Bayer Materials Science) are both using CO2 to produce synthetic diesel and polyurethane foams respectively. CRI in Iceland is producing methanol at profit. Urea has for a long time been a sink for CO2. At Sheffield we are taking that one step further by making urea from CO2 and renewable hydrogen, with no fossil-derived chemicals at all.

What is clear is that while the S has gone from CCS we will still need the CC in order to produce pure feeds of CO2. So there is hope, and uniquely profit, at the end of the tunnel.”

Prof Peter Styring is the Chair of the EPSRC Grand Challenge Network CO2Chem and Director of the UK Centre for Carbon Dioxide Utilisation at Sheffield. He receives grant funding for CO2 Utilisation but not storage from EPSRC, BBSRC, EC, Natural Scotland. He has co-written the Horizon Prize in CO2 Reuse for the European Commission and Industrial CCUS for DECC/BIS as a consultant.


Katy Armstrong


CO2Chem, press release, 2015-11-26.


BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre
Carbon Recycling International (CRI)
CO2Chem Network
Covestro AG
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Government of the United Kingdom
Sunfire GmbH
University of Sheffield


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