Next steps for CCS in the UK1 April 2010
Funding has been awarded by the UK government to E.On and to Scottish Power – the two remaining contenders in the UK government’s long-running CCS competition – to support FEED (front end engineering and design) studies, enabling them to further their proposed designs for CCS projects, at Kingsnorth and Longannet, respectively. These studies involve detailed engineering and design work and will be completed within twelve months, after which the final competition winner will be selected.
The funding is drawn from a pot of £90 million announced in the 2009 Budget, but the precise amounts awarded to E.On and Scottish Power are said to be “commercially confidential.”
The competition winner will be one of four CCS demo projects that the current UK government says it will fund. The government used to talk about funding “up to four” demo projects but the wording has gradually evolved to “four”, and the Energy Bill currently before parliament introduces a first-of-a-kind levy to support four CCS demonstrations in the UK. The current government’s plan is launch a competitive process for the three other projects by the end of 2010, provided the levy proposal is passed.
The Scottish Power competition proposal is a backfit to the existing Longannet plant, while the E.On project involves the utility in the small matter of first constructing the Kingsnorth 1600 MW supercritical power plant (the UK’s first supercritical plant), which they have already deferred an investment decision on.
Kingsnorth CO2 pipeline
Nevertheless the Kingsnorth project would appear to be still firmly on the E.On agenda. On 1 March E.On submitted environmental scoping reports outlining the company’s plans for a carbon dioxide (CO2) pipeline for the proposed plant.
The company said the plans were “part of a vision for Kingsnorth to be the gateway to CCS development in the UK, enabling the future development of a ‘CCS Cluster’ in the South East.”
The scoping reports outline the steps the company will take towards developing final plans for the pipeline, which will go across the Hoo Peninsula and then be placed in a trench on the seabed taking it to the depleted North Sea gas fields that would be used for storage.
The final proposals are expected to be submitted to Medway Council as part of a full pipeline planning application towards the end of this year.
Ed Walker, E.On’s Project Development Manager, said: “We believe that our plans for Kingsnorth represent the best opportunity to provide industrial scale evidence of the viability of CCS and the crucial role it could play in meeting the UK’s future energy needs.
“As we have done at every stage, we’ll be working closely with local communities across the Hoo Peninsula to update them on our plans and to take their views on board.”
The planned route for the pipeline heads north from the power station to the coast at a point near St Mary’s Marshes, passing to the west of Stoke village.
The pipeline would have sufficient capacity in the long term to allow a ‘Thames Cluster’ of carbon capture projects to be developed, transporting 24 million tonnes of CO2 each year to storage sites under the North Sea. This equates to the emissions from around two supercritical Kingsnorth-sized coal-fired power stations and three Grain-sized gas-fired CHP power stations.
“Far from being just about one project, we believe that Kingsnorth has an exciting role to play as a gateway to unlocking the South East energy industry’s potential to decarbonise, something that will become increasingly important as we make the move to a low carbon future,” said Ed Walker.
A series of public exhibitions was planned across the peninsula, from the week starting 26 April 2010.
Other UK CCS initatives
March also saw a number of other CCS related developments in the UK:
• Launch of the government’s Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Industrial Strategy, which envisages growth of an industry worth up to £6.5 billion and sustaining up to 100 000 jobs by 2030.
• Naming of Yorkshire and Humber as the UK’s first low carbon economic area for CCS and the award, by DECC, the Technology Strategy Board and Northern Way, of £6.3 million towards the £21 million cost of the 5 MW / 100t CO2/d carbon capture pilot project planned at the Ferrybridge coal station (which is within the area). The award has been given to Scottish and Southern Energy, in collaboration with Doosan Babcock and Vattenfall. The project will employ the post combustion capture technology being developed by HTC Purenergy, in which Doosan has a stake.
• Start-up of the new Office of Carbon Capture and Storage, the mission of which is “driving development of policy, technology, regulation and funding.”
• Launch by the Energy Technologies Institute (www.energytechnologies.co.uk) of a request for proposals for a validation and demonstration project aimed at “developing capture technology for new-build, pre-combustion capture coal based on physical separation of CO2 from synthesis gas”, with commercial application envisaged by 2020. The ETI, which is prepared to put £25 million into the project, has identified this “next generation” capture technology as a priority “following an extensive analysis of likely future UK requirements for CCS new build and retrofit power generation.” The Energy Technologies Institute has previously announced a £3.8m project to improve appraisal of CO2 storage potential.