Trade-offs in assessing different energy futures: a regional multi-criteria assessment of the role of carbon dioxide capture and storage

We examine the responses of stakeholders from the public and private sectors to future energy scenarios for the year 2050 for the North West of England. The main focus of the paper is to examine the stakeholders’ reactions to the mitigation option of capturing CO2 from power stations and storing it in suitable off-shore geological reservoirs. Five energy scenarios were developed which involved a range of levels Of CO2 capture and storage (CCS): Fossilwise, Nuclear Renaissance, Renewable Generation and Spreading the Load high and low scenarios. A multi-criteria assessment method (MCA) was used as a way of elucidating stakeholders’ views on the desirability or otherwise of each scenario against nine stakeholder-derived criteria. We found that stakeholders were either business-focused or environment/society-focused with respect to weighting of the criteria. Scoring of the scenarios did not follow such a straightforward pattern. Most respondents scored and weighted strategically and tended to express a clear preference for a form of energy generation. The results suggest that there is unlikely to be a wide-ranging consensus amongst energy stakeholders on the desirability of specific future forms of energy generation. On balance, the results support the inclusion of CCS within scenarios of a low-carbon energy system.