Government kills off first carbon capture project
The TUC and trade unions in the power sector are reacting with dismay to the Government’s decision to cancel the world’s first commercial carbon capture project at Longannet, the coal-fired power station in Fife, Scotland. The decision threatens the UK’s leadership in producing vital technology to combat climate change. And any delay to the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) puts at risk the 10,000 or more jobs dependent upon coal power and coal mining in the UK. It’s much more likely that our global competitors will now reap the benefits of the UK government’s inaction and become the winners in the race to develop an effective version of this emerging technology.
The TUC has called on Ministers to come up with the funds and a tight programme to allow the remaining three carbon capture pilot projects to get off the ground.
Stephen Boyd, Scottish Trades Union Congress Assistant Secretary said the refusal of the Coalition to back the Longannet CCS project will have disastrous consequences for Scotland.
“At a stroke, first mover advantage in a key emerging global industry is lost and with it potentially thousands of quality skilled jobs. Public investment is essential as no private consortium will underwrite the level of technological and regulatory risk associated with a project of this nature. Energy policy at UK and Scottish level is now in tatters”.
Dr Jeff Chapman, Chief Executive of the CCSA was more inclined to defend the reputation of the CCS industry against this decision. It was the unfortunate result of specific issues individual to the negotiations between Scottish Power and the Government.
“It should in no way be taken as indicative of the readiness of CCS or the ambition of the industry. Despite this, the lessons from this UK competition will be an invaluable contribution as we move forward with the UK CCS programme.”
The CCSA is also urging Government to ensure that a streamlined funding and construction process is put in place to deliver the commitment to four CCS projects as smoothly and swiftly as possible. The imminent DECC roadmap must set out a comprehensive UK CCS investment programme, providing investor confidence going forward.
But Dr Richard Dixon, director of environmental charity WWF Scotland, said,
“CCS has the potential to help reduce emissions at thousands of coal power stations around the world. However, almost four years after launching its funding competition, plans for CCS in the UK have descended into farce. Four years have effectively been wasted in the battle to tackle climate change.”