By a Newsnet reporter
The SNP has welcomed the announcement of a new £20 million competition for the development of innovations in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology by the UK Energy Secretary this evening, but said the new competition must have a prize winner – unlike two previous UK competitions.
The competition was launched on Monday by UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey, who said: “By supporting research and development, this 20 million pound competition is an important step towards making cost competitive CCS a reality by the 2020s.”
The £20 million competition, which will open for applications on April 30, will be in addition to the UK government’s promised £1 billion to support commercial-scale CCS projects.
Bids are being invited to develop better and cheaper CCS components and systems for pilot scale demonstration. These will support the development of CCS, which the government says is vital if the UK is to meet its climate change and carbon emissions targets.
Scotland was previously due to be the location for two major CCS projects, but both were cancelled by the UK government. In 2008, the previous Labour Government torpedoed the Peterhead CCS project – which would have been the world’s first pre-combustion carbon capture plant. Instead the project went to Abu Dhabi.
Last year, the Coalition Government pulled the rug from under another CCS project at Longannet, and created uncertainty over the future of the £1billion Treasury fund.
SNP Westminster Energy spokesperson Mike Weir said:
“The UK Government keep announcing competitions, but there never seem to be any prize winners. If Ministers are serious about creating a CCS industry then we need to see real investment to get a project operational.
“The last Labour Government torpedoed the Peterhead CCS project – which would have been the world’s first pre-combustion carbon capture plant – which then went to Abu Dhabi instead of Scotland.
“And last year the present Coalition Government pulled the rug from under the Longannet coal CCS project.
“Given the abysmal record of the UK Government on CCS, we now need a clear guarantee and timetable from the government for this latest competition. We need a competition with closing date and, more importantly, a prize that will guarantee real progress on this important industry.
“Previous delays mean that other countries are powering ahead with their projects, leaving us in their wake rather than leading the race.”
Banff and Buchan SNP MP, Dr Eilidh Whiteford, who represents Peterhead – where a joint development agreement between Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Shell UK Limited for the development of the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project at SSE’s gas-fired power station in Peterhead is being developed – added:
“While I welcome the governments announcement, there must be no more delays to the competition process.
“Scotland has some of Europe’s largest carbon storage reserves in our North Sea oil and gas fields combined with the expertise on how to access them.
“This project would put Peterhead at the cutting-edge of carbon capture technology. The UK Government must now recognise the very strong case which exists for this project going ahead and the investment it will bring to the North-east of Scotland.
“People have not forgotten that Peterhead could already have been four years ahead of where it is now had the last Labour Government not decided to pull back from its support for the previous carbon capture project.
“Scotland has some of Europe’s largest carbon storage reserves in our North Sea oil and gas fields combined with the expertise on how to access them. And carbon capture investment can also be a key driver of economic recovery in Scotland. For the sake of both the environment and the economy, we need progress now.”