The UK government has pledged £800m ($1bn) to fund new carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects, while arguing that renewable energy is likely to be the UK's "primary source of electricity in the future".
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak told Parliament on Wednesday that the government will establish CCS in at least two UK sites, one by the mid-2020s and a second by 2030, supported by the creation of a new CCS Infrastructure Fund of at least £800m, with budgets to be finalised.
"Once up and running, these clusters will store millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide that otherwise would have been released into the atmosphere," he said.
This will be paid for through "consumer subsidies", according to the accompanying 2020 Budget document, which added: "Carbon capture and storage will be important to decarbonising both power and industry. It can provide flexible low carbon power and decarbonise many industrial processes, whilst also offering the option for negative emissions at scale."
Sunak did not mention renewable energy in his speech to Parliament, but the 2020 Budget document explained that the costs of renewable energy "have fallen so quickly that offshore wind, onshore wind and solar are likely to be the UK’s primary source of electricity in the future".
"However, the power generated by these renewable sources is dependent on the weather, so the UK also needs reliable low carbon power from technologies such as nuclear, gas with carbon capture and storage, and hydrogen."
This suggests that storing renewable energy using batteries and other technologies is not going to play a major role in the goverment's plan to hit net-zero emissions by 2050.
The Budget document also discussed the decarbonisation of industry and heating — which would be powered by hydrogen or low-carbon electricity, including "capturing industrial emissions and storing them safely under the ground".
The policy paper explained: "The heating of our homes will need to be virtually zero carbon by 2050, replacing natural gas and other fossil fuels with low carbon alternatives — likely to be primarily a mix of green gas, heat pumps and heat networks."
It then revealed a new support programme for biomethane, adding that "the government will also support the installation of heat pumps and biomass boilers by introducing a Low Carbon Heat Support Scheme".
Sunak added that the government's "strategic choices" regarding its net-zero target will be set out later this year.