Carbon Capture key to UK climate change targets as Peterhead given nod

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  By Martin Kelly
 
The cost to the UK of reaching climate change targets would double without Carbon Capture and Storage (CSS), the CEO of the Energy Technologies Institute has said.
 
Speaking to industry magazine the Engineer, David Clarke said: “Our research has found that without CCS, the cost of reaching UK Climate Change targets will double from a minimum of around £30bn per year in 2050. That shows the potential economic importance of the technology as part of the UK’s energy mix.”

Mr Clarke was commenting on the news that Peterhead had been chosen as the best place to develop the revolutionary process in the UK.  The decision to award funding to the North East plant coincided with a trip to Scotland by the Westminster Cabinet.

UK Energy minister Ed Davey said: “We are investing around £100m from our £1bn budget to take the Peterhead and White Rose CCS projects to the next stage of development – which together could support over 2,000 jobs during construction and provide clean electricity for over one million homes.

“In late 2015, the projects will take final investment decisions, with the government taking decisions shortly after.”

The decision to finally award the funding to Peterhead followed nearly seven years of delay that has angered environmentalists and industry experts.

In 2013 experts criticised continued delays

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 dithering and delay by the then Labour Government.  In 2011 plans to install CCS at Longannet collapsed after Westminster failed to reach an agreement on funding.

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing welcomed the announcement, saying:

“We welcome today’s announcement that the Peterhead CCS Project will now proceed to the FEED stage – an outcome we have been campaigning for since the inception of the UK Government’s CCS Commercialisation Competition.

“Indeed, we have been robust advocates of CCS for over a decade now, recognising the strong comparative advantages that Scotland has in academic expertise, industrial know-how and the unrivalled storage capacity in the North Sea – enough to store at least 50 years of current annual CO2 emissions from the European Union. There is also potential to store captured CO2 in depleted oil fields, further maximising oil production.”

“To secure a wider CCS industry, it is important that the UK Government continues to encourage and incentivise other highly-innovative CCS projects such as the Captain Clean Energy Project.”

The project, led by Shell with support from SSE, owners of the Peterhead gas power station in Aberdeenshire, aims to capture 10 million tonnes of CO2 over 10 years.

If successful, the project will represent the first application of CCS technology at a gas power station anywhere in the world.

In a statement, Ed Daniels, chairman of Shell UK said: “The project has the potential to make gas, already the cleanest burning fossil fuel, even cleaner.

“CCS could be critical to reducing carbon emissions at a time of growing global demand for energy. The successful demonstration of the technology at Peterhead would be a step towards proving its commercial viability as a tool for mitigating climate change. It could also help diversify the North Sea oil and gas industry and so contribute to the sector’s long-term commercial health.”

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “Demonstrating carbon capture on this existing gas power station would enable us to test the technology and cut emissions from our energy sector whilst we transition to a renewable future.

“Scotland is rich in renewable sources of energy and going forward could have a secure electricity supply without any need for fossil fuel power.

“However, as we transition to a 100% renewable future, Scotland is also well placed to develop and test CCS – a potentially important global technology.

“It’s great to hear that we might be about to start turning this opportunity into a reality.”