Carbon capture technology gets £25m

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Funding totalling £40m for hi-tech projects to tackle climate change was announced yesterday.

Funding totalling £40m for hi-tech projects to tackle climate change was announced yesterday.

The Energy minister, Malcolm Wicks, said a £25m grant will encourage industry to build a power station emitting hardly any carbon dioxide (CO 2), by using the revolutionary new technology of carbon capture and storage (CCS). He also announced a £15m grant for further UK development of the hydrogen fuel cell, the transport power source that could replace the internal combustion engine.

CCS would involve trapping waste CO 2 from power stations, liquefying it for transport and 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 85 per cent.

The technology may be increasingly important around the world, not least because the mushrooming economies of developing nations such as China and India are likely to continue to supply most of their energy needs from burning coal. Mr Wicks said this could present a huge business opportunity for Britain, as well as helping the UK meet its targets for cutting greenhouse emissions.

"Reaching our ambitious target of cutting carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 means action now to support emerging technologies that will enable us to burn coal and gas more cleanly," he said. "With major expansion of coal-fired power generation expected in China and India, we want to put the UK at the forefront of what could be a valuable new export market."

Capture and storage of CO 2 under the North Sea is already being practised successfully by the Norwegian oil company Statoil. After eight years , there have been no leaks. The Government wants a full-scale demonstration power plant built, designed with the new technology in mind. But it is likely to take a decade to become operational, and the UK Offshore Oil Operators Association said there were "considerable technical, regulatory and cost barriers still to be addressed" about the storage side.

Friends of the Earth gave the plan a "cautious welcome" but the Green Party labelled it "expensive and potentially damaging".

John Cridland, the CBI's deputy director-general, said: "Business supports the Government's demanding CO 2 reduction targets, but only a package of measures - including cleaner coal and gas plants, energy efficiency measures, renewable sources and potentially more use of nuclear energy - can deliver them."