By Martin Kelly
A leading academic has criticised the UK Government’s lack of progress in the area of Carbon Capture and Storage (CSS) claiming it is harming a crucially important green energy technology.
Speaking to the BBC, leading expert in CCS – Professor Stuart Haszeldine – warned that people in the field are becoming “angry and depressed” by the delays.
The Professor, who chairs the Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage group, said:
“…what we’re asking is we get on and do something about it – we stop talking, we start doing.
He added: “People who’re working on the pure science are depressed that the message is not being heard adequately and the people who’re trying to do something practical working with industry are getting quite angry that they’re being ignored as well and just parked as continually Governments kick the can down the road in the UK and in Europe.”
Progress towards CCS technology in Scotland has been repeatedly hit by set-backs as successive UK Governments refuse to commit funds to the technology.
In 2007, BP was forced to withdraw from previous plans to develop the technology in Peterhead, citing Westminster dithering and delay, while in 2011 plans to install CCS at Longannet collapsed after Westminster failed to reach an agreement on funding.
Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:
“These warnings that scientists in Scotland are ‘angry and depressed’ by the lack of progress emanating from Westminster are deeply concerning, and ones that everyone in Scotland would do well to heed.
“On the very day that the No campaign has launched its academics group, the roadblocks to scientific progress in Scotland that Westminster all too often puts up have been made abundantly clear.”
Professor Haszeldine’s comments coincided with the launch of the anti-independence campaign’s ‘academics together’ group which claimed independence would harm Scottish scientific research.
However Mr Stevenson said the failure of London to support Carbon Capture in Scotland was a clear example of the need for independence.
He added: “Why does the No campaign think it is better for Westminster to make decisions for Scotland, when time and time again they have dithered and delayed when it comes to backing carbon capture and storage?
“Scotland can and should be playing a leading role in the development of this vital technology, and the fact that Westminster has hindered progress in this area – under both Labour and Tory-led UK governments – shows why Scotland can achieve more with the powers of independence.
“The fact is that with five universities in the world top 200 – more by head of population than anywhere else in the world – Scotland is in a fantastic position internationally, and that is something we can build on in an independent Scotland.
Last month Peterhead emerged as the front runner in a contest to decide the location of the world’s first Carbon Capture plant.
According to Energy Voice, the UK Government was “on the verge” of declaring the Scottish power plant the winner of a £1bn funding grant to develop Carbon Capture and Storage technology (CSS).
The Peterhead bid is backed by Shell and Scottish and Southern Electricity (SSE) and is one of only two preferred bids for the funding, the other being the White Rose project in Yorkshire.