From the TUC

Carbon capture needs first 5 year jobs plan

04 Apr 2012, by in Environment

It seems the green economy is back. Launching a new competition for the first full scale carbon capture (CCS) project,  DECC has acknowledged that it “represents a major green growth opportunity for the UK”. There are new signs too of government linking energy and industry policy. Its roadmap for “a sustainable CCS industry” aims to “capture emissions from clusters of power and industrial plants linked together…”.

The potential for power and industry clusters sharing expensive carbon capture technology is well known in industrial regions like Yorkshire & Humber, Teesside, the East Irish Sea and east coast of Scotland. But, if DECC is really serious about capturing CO2 from steel or chemical plant, its consultation paper fails to say how:

“We will consider incentives that might drive deployment of industrial CCS following completion of the work we intend to take forward to identify the current state of innovation and the barriers to deployment.”

“When?” is the other question many in industry will ask.

Meanwhile, companies in Yorkshire are bidding for a share of the £1bn grants – carried over from last year so it’s not new money. Yorkshire power companies want to make the region the UK’s “carbon capture capital” by securing a major share of £1bn in Government funding. 2Co Energy and a consortium based around the Drax power station are both bidding for projects that could be linked by pipelines taking CO2 to the North Sea. The competition follows the collapse last year of the Longannet power station bid. The CCS Roadmap aims to reach at least ten power stations worth CCS by 2030 (20 to 30 MW), as proposed by the CCSA.

The University of Leeds will be one of ten to be part of a new £13m CCS research centre. Capture Power, a joint venture from Drax, Alstom and BOC is putting forward the “White Rose CCS Project”, a new plant on the Drax site burning coal and biomass, for a share of the £1bn. In a separate bid, 2Co Energy is looking for the Government to support its plans for the Don Valley Power Project, a new coal-fired power station in South Yorkshire.

2Co Energy is developing the Don Valley Power Project which would power 1m homes with more than 90% of C02 used to help in oil drilling in the North Sea before being stored. Global conglomerate Samsung last week announced it was taking a 15% stake in the Don Valley Power Project which 2Co bought out of administration last year.

Dr Stephen Brown, director of strategy and innovation at CO2Sense, said:

“The Government has moved away from concentrating on single end-to-end projects and is now inviting applications from projects that can demonstrate links with other projects through, for example, shared transport pipelines and storage infrastructure. Yorkshire and the Humber is already well advanced in this area, and should be top of the list for the government funding.”

The CCS competition includes:

  • £1bn capital funding, and additional support, subject to affordability, through low carbon Contracts for Difference;
  • £125m funding for Research and Development, including a new £13m UK CCS Research Centre;
  • planned long term Contracts for Difference through Electricity Market Reforms;
  • commitments to working with industry to address other important areas including developing skills and the supply chain, storage and assisting the development of CCS infrastructure; and
  • a focus on international engagement, in particular on learning from other projects around the world to help accelerate cost reduction in the UK.

The Government has recognised that only with a firm long-term policy, coupled with clear financing mechanisms, will enable CCS to fulfil its role in reducing emissions and decarbonise the power AND industry sectors by 2030. It’s frustrating to see huge jobs forecasts such as “creating potentially more than 100,000 jobs by 2030”. It’s the here and now that matters with CCS. We still lack a plan for the first 5 years – with plain and simple CCS incentives encouraging industry and power companies to work on joint projects. That’s where the big prizes on jobs and skills will be found.