Development of the next generation of CCS technologies is to receive a major boost from the Energy Technologies Institute.
The ETI is working with Costain to deliver a project that will see a carbon capture pilot plant capable of capturing up to 95 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions designed, built, operated and tested by the middle of 2015.
With the nuclear industry facing a crisis of public and investor confidence after the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan the focus is back on fossil fuels, and particularly coal, to provide baseload power.
But the continued use of coal is dependent on developing CCS technologies that are both reliable and cost-effective.
The project will be aimed at pre-combustion carbon capture applications, involving CO2 removal by physical separation, and will be split into two parts.
Costain will undertake the first phase of the project, lasting 16 months and costing £3.5million, to provide the front end engineering design for the demonstration unit.
Costain will work with the University of Edinburgh and Imperial College London on this stage, to help understand and optimise performance of the technology.
The ETI expects to invest £20million in the second stage, as the pilot plant is built, demonstrated and the results analysed.
A potential site has been identified for the pilot plant, and will be reviewed and ranked against other options before it is confirmed.
“Current technologies significantly increase the costs of capturing CO2 and reduce the power output or increase fuel consumption,” said ETI chief executive Dr David Clarke.
“This project will develop technology that will reduce the costs and increase performance to allow a full scale commercially viable facility to be ready for power export by 2020.
“We expect all new-build coal- fired power stations will require CCS by 2020 and gas-fired power stations will need to be fitted with CCS by 2030.”
Energy Minister Charles Hendry welcomed the announcement, saying: “Carbon capture and storage can significantly reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power stations and will play a crucial role for delivering a secure, low carbon future.
“Pilot projects like these will help develop and reduce the costs of the next generation of capture technologies and are an essential step on the road to deployment.”