From the TUC

Carbon capture creates jobs, cuts bills

03 Feb 2014, by in Environment

How reassuring that the only realistic tool to tackle carbon emissions from fossil fuels is in the forefront of TUC thinking.  The UK’s Coal Producers have been let down by successive Governments who have shouted loud that they were going to make sure the UK led the way in the development and commercialisation of large scale generation plant with Carbon Capture and Storage. We have gone from those heady statements first made in 2007 at the same time as the Government (and a vast majority of all MP’s) ensured that no new coal-fired generation plant would be allowed to be built in the UK unless it was fitted with CCS.

The new joint report from the TUC and the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA) has enough depth for discerning politicians to be able to see the real opportunity that getting into the CCS Industry could be for the UK.

We are ideally placed as an island with ready made storage in depleted oil and gas fields in the North Sea, as a geologist it seems remarkable that anyone would question whether this storage would be secure, did oil and gas come bubbling up from the sea bed before we started drilling for it? I think not! In that case why would CO2 which is much more dense than Natural Gas (mainly CH4) leak out into the sea?

Global coal production is 7.8bn tonnes annually and rising. The latest report from the International Energy Agency says: “In our central scenario, global coal demand increases by 17% to 2035, with two-thirds of the increase occurring by 2020.”

We hear much about the Green Jobs which the transition to low carbon life will bring but it is a shame to say that so far the renewables industry has not provided a flood of new employment. Fossil fuels with CCS can provide high capacity flexible electricity supplies with little or no CO2 emitted, the power stations would provide long term employment for many engineers and operators.

If the UK demonstrates and develops CCS it will then have the opportunity to sell both the technical expertise and the engineering (both design and manufacture) into a global market worth multiple billions of pounds. Implementation and incentives from UK Government should be a “no-brainier”.

Meanwhile, Unite and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have joined forces to call on the government to embrace Carbon Capture Storage to cut energy bills, create jobs and reduce CO2 emissions. At a conference on January 27 attended by politicians, industry experts and workers in the energy sector, the unions warned that jobs are being lost and the UK is facing a “make or break moment” if the country is to take advantage of its prime position to be a world leader in Carbon Capture technology.  Speakers at the conference included Tom Greatrix MP, Peter Emery, production director for Drax (one of the UK’s two CCS pilot projects) and Philip Garner, director general, Coal Pro.

Failure to embrace CCS would have devastating consequences for jobs, said the unions, because of the premature closure of coal fired power stations if CCS is not deployed. 800 jobs are due to be lost at Eggborough power station in North Yorkshire. Had CCS already been in use those jobs and the power produced by Eggborough would still be viable.