With uncanny timing, just as we have been debating the failure of subsidised nukes to get off the ground, HMG tries to revive that other wingless wonder the Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) scheme.
Having already been jilted at the CCS altar by BP, then by SSE, the government has once again wheeled out its billion-£ dowry in the hope of finding another suitor.
Let's remember the issue here. The CCS chain is comprised of links, each one of which can be described as proven. The CO2 can be extracted from the power generation process (though the technology is newish) - check. The CO2, even though corrosive, can certainly be transported by pipeline (it happens on a huge scale in the USA, for oilfield usage) - check. It can be pumped into the ground (happens all the time for enhancing oil-field production) - check. It will probably stay there ... errrr ... check ?
But no-one has stitched this all together on anything like 'industrial' scale, still less economically. So here we go again - another would-be industry and extensive supply-chain salivating at the prospects of gigantic, ahem, subsidies. There's already a trade body, the CCS Association; and a Professor of CCS ! In the past there was ill-advised official talk of profitability, no less, and politicians dream of an enormous industry developing organically in the same way as did the North Sea oil & gas sector (only in reverse, if you see what I mean). But there are good economic reasons why this doesn't work as a parallel, which we may go into another time.
When Li'l Ed Miliband had a crack at this last time around I highlighted a commendable degree of cynical pragmatism: he set the bar very low for qualification. The same advisers have been drafting for Ed Davey:
"In order to qualify for the competition, projects must be CCS Full Chain, or part chain capable of demonstrating the prospect of being part of a Full Chain Project in the future" (my emphasis) - ha ha !
Some of the sharkiest investors I have ever met have their eyes on this little honey-pot. On the other hand, leftie-greenies hate CCS, because any hydrocarbon is a hydrocarbon, guilty as charged. So let's see how this all pans out - and hope that not too many British businesses get royally marched up and down the hill again.