UKCCSC Theme H: Dynamic Pathways

Theme Leader: Clair Gough, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester

The pathway development component was intended to develop something more dynamic than traditional scenarios and to explore the transition processes necessary to bring CCS into mainstream application in the UK. The process outlined here seeks to identify and understand the key uncertainties in the development of CCS in a way that should provide useful insights into how different transitions to the use of CCS may occur. Transitions theory (Elzen, Geels and Green, 2004) provides a framework which may be used to locate specific critical decision points and to develop richer descriptions of different types of transition pathways, exploring the conditions connected with each pathway. Key topics will include those already being studied in detail in Theme D (Social Processes), within other Themes of the Consortium and other issues not captured within the Consortium Work Programme.

The first stage in the analysis will be to identify and map key topics – critical decision points that will affect how CCS is deployed (or not). Examples of key topics that will be explored in greater detail include:

  1. IGCC vs USC technology: There is currently great debate over whether carbon dioxide capture from coal plant will be via a Supercritical or gasification route. Which of these is adopted could have far reaching implications – for example to the development of the hydrogen economy, to the load following role of coal fired generation and to the supply and development of the technology in an international context
  2. Economic regime: how CCS fits into emissions trading schemes, taxation, incentives etc. This will relate to the business model component in Theme D.
  3. Regulation: application of international conventions impact on storage regimes; affect of accreditation systems on monitoring etc.

This stage will begin by interviewing prominent stakeholders in the implementation of CCS in the UK, and internationally to identify what each individual thinks are the critical decisions associated with CCS. Based on the results of the interviews, the research team’s own understanding and the press responses collated under the media tracking exercise, we will build up a number of candidate areas in which we will undertake a more detailed analysis. It is envisaged that these will be interlinked and nested, such that overall the analysis will enable us to build up a dynamic picture of crux issues for CCS.

The result will be a set of qualitative pathways through which CCS might be deployed and the contingent roles and coalitions of particular actors within the pathways. This methodology enables us to explore some issues in more depth than others while still including a comprehensive view of the system as a whole.

This theme will be implemented by Clair Gough and Sarah Mander in the University of Manchester and David Reiner in the University of Cambridge.