Scottish Secretary of State Michael Moore has refused to confirm whether funding will be made available for a new Carbon Capture project at the Peterhead power plant.
The Lib Dem MP was responding to a question from local MP Eilidh Whiteford following an announcement from Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Shell UK Limited of an agreement to develop a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project at the gas-fired power station.
Questioning the Secretary of State for Scotland in parliament, Dr Whiteford demanded assurances that the UK Government will commit to the project. Dr Whiteford highlighted the failure of the previous Labour Government to support an earlier project – and the more recent decision of the current Coalition Government to torpedo development of a Carbon Capture and Storage plant at Longannet.
However Mr Moore would not commit and merely replied: “… it is vitally important that Peterhead and others come forward with their bids and there’s a billion pounds available to help support them.”
Welcoming the announcement of a new joint development, Dr Whiteford said:
“This is great news for Peterhead and excellent news for Scotland’s renewable sector given we have 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.
“SSE are to be commended for their continuing commitment to carbon capture at Peterhead, and this project has huge environmental potential of international significance, and must be embraced by the government. This has been a key campaign for the SNP, and Alex Salmond, as First Minister and as the former local MP, battled to bring the development of carbon capture to the area.
“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 Peterhead.
“People have not forgotten that Peterhead could already have been three 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.”
The announcement of an agreement by the two energy companies to develop carbon storage at Peterhead follows the recent scrapping of the Longannet project after the UK coalition refused to commit the necessary funds. However Westminster has insisted that funding totalling £1 billion is still on the table.
In June 2007, shortly after the SNP won the Holyrood election by one seat, the then Labour chancellor Alistair Darling confirmed that the UK government would not be committing to a carbon storage project at Peterhead.
The project at Peterhead would have been the first industrial scale project in the world to combine three separate technologies – hydrogen production, power generation and carbon capture and storage – to generate electricity using hydrogen from natural gas.