Two UK firms are applying for EU funding for carbon storage

UK firms seek EU funding for carbon projects

Two projects to capture and bury climate-warming carbon from power plants in Scotland have applied for European Union funding.

UK utility Scottish and Southern Energy wants funding for a carbon capture and storage (CCS) project at its gas-fired power station in Peterhead, while Peel Energy has asked for EU funds to fit CCS to a planned coal and biomass-fuelled power station at Hunterston.

In November the UK government opened up competition for funding of CCS projects - which had been limited to dirtier coal plants - to gas plants, because they would need to be included for the UK to meet its goal of cutting carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

"If long-term targets for reducing emissions are to be met, CCS technology must be applied as widely as possible. We therefore welcomed the government's decision to include the gas-fired generation plant in its CCS demonstration programme," SSE chief executive Ian Marchant said in a statement.

"However, the development of a commercial-scale CCS demonstration project presents significant challenges and will require appropriate levels of support from both the EU and UK government ... Given the work already undertaken, the project can proceed at a pace at least equal to other CCS projects in Europe."

Shell UK Limited and oil services company Petrofac will provide the offshore transport and storage elements of the SSE project to capture climate-warming carbon from one 385 megawatt (MW) turbine at the plant and pump it into a depleted gas field in the North Sea operated by Shell.

Petrofac is also involved in Peel's Ayrshire power plant at Hunterston, along with Korea's Doosan Power Systems and US-based engineering company Fluor.

The SSE project could qualify for both EU and UK government funding aimed at encouraging investment in projects to trap emissions from fossil fuel-burning power plants and bury them safely underground in what is widely seen as a vital technology for the fight against climate change.

Existing coal-fired power plants typically produce around three times more carbon dioxide than gas plants, making gas a relatively cheap, quick way of trimming carbon emissions.

But the relatively low emissions level from gas plants means there is less financial incentive under the EU's carbon trading scheme to fit expensive CCS equipment to gas plants, making additional funding even more important to projects such as Peterhead.

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