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Government»Carbon Capture Plans to Go Ahead Say UK GOV

»Monday, October 19,2009

Energy and climate secretary Ed Miliband has insisted that the delay to the new coal-fired power plant at Kingsnorth would not derail Britain's drive to prove the viability of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, seen as vital to ensuring energy security while also curbing carbon emissions.


The comments come as the International Energy Agency (IEA) released a report saying that at least 850 full-scale CCS plants need to be built by 2030 – 100 of them by 2020 – if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change by halving global carbon emissions by 2050. To date, no plant has been shown to be able to trap and bury the emissions from a power station on a commercial scale.

Last week, power company E.ON said the recession had cut demand for electricity, forcing it to postpone its Kingsnorth plans. Kingsnorth had been seen as a frontrunner in the UK government's competition to build a CCS demonstration. Plans for clean coal were dealt a further blow this week when the Danish energy company Dong Energy announced it was pulling out of plans for another major new coal-fired plant in Ayrshire.

But Miliband said: "The recession and decisions of individual companies will not push us back from driving CCS forward with great urgency. There are no shortage of companies that want to come forward with projects and we are determined [to make sure] CCS happens quickly."

E.ON is technically still taking part in the UK competition, which aims to see up to four CCS demonstration plants running by the middle of the next decade, but it is unclear if its revised plans for Kingsnorth would fit in that timeframe. Friends of the Earth's head of climate, Mike Childs, said: "Trials of carbon capture and storage need to be fast-tracked so that the technology can be applied to existing industry as soon as possible. New coal-fired power plants without full CCS from the beginning are not an option."

Miliband was speaking at a meeting of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF), a group of major energy companies and 22 coal-consuming countries – including the US, China, Australia and the UK – in London. The group issued a statement insisting that the "viability of CCS as a key mitigation technology should be recognised" at the UN climate summit talks in December, and encouraged major economies to accelerate deployment of CCS around the world.

Nobuo Tanaka, head of the IEA, said the economic crisis, and the consequent fall in emissions, had given the world a "window of opportunity" to halve the world's CO2 emissions by mid-century. He said CCS must play a major role, delivering a fifth of all cuts, with increases in energy efficiency and renewable energy making up most of the remainder. "Our road map says we'll need 100 large-scale projects by 2020, 850 by 2030 and 3400 in 2050." This is consistent with the G8 leaders' call in Hokkaido to announce 20 large-scale demonstration projects identified by 2010 with a view towards commercialisation by 2020.

The IEA report said the majority of the CCS demonstrations will have to be built, in the first instance, in developed countries, but then "quickly expanded to the developing world, such as China and India, where the vast majority of emissions growth will be seen".

The IEA's road map requires global investment of about $56bn (£35bn) per year for CCS in the next decade in developed countries, with up to a further $2.5bn in developing countries. In total, the IEA has estimated that the world needs to invest $45tn in low-carbon technologies by 2050 to make the required cuts.

At the meeting, Norway said it will raise annual investment in CCS to a record $621m in 2010. Norway is well placed for CCS, having large, depleted oil and gas fields for burial of CO2. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said his country wanted to lead international efforts to develop CCS, and has compared the challenge to the Apollo space programme of the 1960s.

But finance might not be the biggest problem for CCS, according to some speakers at the CSLF, who stressed the need to gain public acceptance of projects. "There is still a lot of work needed to explain to citizens why we do this and that this is not dangerous to health and that this will not decrease their property value," said Andris Piebalgs, EU energy commissioner. A pilot project at Schwarze Pumpe in Germany has had to vent trapped CO2 to the atmosphere following local objections to its burial underground.

"In the end you have to take specific projects forward and have to have an acceptable public reception to those projects," said Nick Otter of the Global CCS Institute. "We've seen some of the difficulties of getting these projects through the planning phase. All the work we've done shows that when people know what it's about, they have more confidence in it. There's a real awareness issue there, which could be a real big stopper on the whole way forward. This must be addressed."





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