Energy: A technology competition that could save the planet

A A A

It's the technology that may do more than any other to save the planet - and Britain may be first to bring it on stream, Gordon Brown announced.

The Chancellor said the Government would launch a competition to build the world's first power station to use full-scale carbon capture and storage - known as CCS - a way of minimising the emissions of carbon dioxide, from fossil fuel burning, that are helping to cause climate change.

The technology involves trapping waste CO2 from power stations, liquefying it for transport and then pumping it into depleted North Sea oil and gas fields, deep in the seabed, where it would remain out of contact with the atmosphere. It is thought this could reduce carbon emissions from a given plant by up to 90 per cent.

Various bits of the technology have been tried and proven - the Norwegian company Statoil has successfully stored CO2 under the North Sea - but so far, no one has built an integrated plant which produces electricity, captures its emissions, transports them to a storage site and successfully sequesters them under the seabed. The competition is to build such a working plant, and the winner (or winners), to be announced next year, would be able to count on considerable government funding assistance.

Details were later given by the Trade and Industry Secretary, Alistair Darling, who has ultimate responsibility for energy. "Carbon capture and storage has massive potential to allow us to meet our energy needs at the same time as cutting carbon emissions. It opens up huge possibility, not just for Britain but also for the world," he said.

"Rapid deployment of CCS technology in growth economies such as China and India will be vital. This competition gives innovative UK industries the opportunity to become the leading exporters of CCS technology for the low carbon age."

Mr Brown unveiled several new green tax measures in his Budget. He announced that the climate change levy, which encourages energy saving by major industrial electricity users, would rise in line with inflation from April 2008.

He also announced rises in two more environmental taxes - the landfill tax, which is paid on waste going to rubbish dumps, and the aggregates levy, which is paid on sand, gravel and crushed rock.

Is CCS the world's only hope?

CCS has become the great hope of politicians and environmentalists wrestling with the threat of global warming. It is seen as the only solution to a phenomenon that will give climate change an enormous boost - the economic explosion in developing countries, led by China, powered by electricity produced in coal-fired plants. Over the next two decades China will build 600 coal-fired power stations, and by then it will have become the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter. The Chinese are going to build these plants; only by fitting CCS technology to them could their emissions be mitigated. One senior British politician said recently: "If China does not take up CCS, we are all done for."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Arts and Entertainment
World Book Day
News
people
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Life and Style
love + sex
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner - Night Shift

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A leading Leicestershire based chilled food ma...

Ashdown Group: Senior Accountant - ACCA, ACA or ACMA - Construction Sector

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Accountant (ACCA, ...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executive - PR and Broadcast - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has an exciting op...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor - Shifts

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This European market leader for security...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot