Carbon capture may have faced setbacks, with the Longannet project scrapped in October, and questions have been asked over the Government’s funding of these projects, but now the UK’s CCS technology has taken a step forward, with the largest pilot project now open in Yorkshire. Charlotte Reid has more.
The largest carbon capture pilot project in the UK opened on Wednesday November 30th. It has been fitted to a live coal-fired power station based in Yorkshire.
The exhaust fumes produced by the Ferrybridge power plant, operated by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), will be trapped by the new equipment. The technology at the power station will capture the equivalent of 100 tonnes of carbon emissions a day.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects have been described as the “saviour for old coal plants” as it is a way to continue burning fossil fuels without having the environmental impact of releasing carbondioxide into the atmosphere.
At the launch of the project Chris Huhne, secretary of state for energy and climate change, said, “This flagship test programme at Ferrybridge represents an important milestone in the UK’s plans to develop CCS and provides a critical bridge to meeting our long term aim of cost competitive CCS deployment by the 2020s.
“This is the first operating carbon capture plant attached to a power station at this scale in the UK and has benefitted from more than £6 million in public money. This investment will be invaluable to the wider commercial scale deployment of CCS by reducing uncertainty, driving down costs and developing the UK supply chain and skills.”
Recently, CCS projects have been under scrutiny, with the Treasury saying that they will be using unused money from other areas to back a major infrastructure programme.
Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, said on The Today Programme on Monday November 28th, that money will be used from CCS projects because “we announced a few weeks back that the carbon capture and storage programme has been delayed because the original project couldn’t be delivered.
“We’re committed to providing the money for that but it is most likely that the majority of that money will be needed in the next parliament and so we can release funds in this parliament.”
The Ferrybridge plant is being funded and managed by the Technology Strategy Board, a government agency. Chief executive Iain Gray believes that thinking about the future demand for energy is important.
“By 2050, there will be a complex mix of energy generating assets including everything from nuclear power stations to offshore wind turbines and solar cells on people’s houses”, he said.
“At the same time, demand for power will go up, and the power sector will need to manage new requirements, such as the electrification of heating systems and the incorporation of electric vehicles into the electricity system.”
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