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Scientists Say SNP's Plans for Carbon Capture 'Not Feasible'

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Scottish Government's carbon capture plans have been dealt a double blow after research found the technology was "not feasible at any cost".
It came as MSPs voted in favour of an amendment opposing coal-fired power stations such as one proposed at Hunterston by Ayrshire Power.
The Hunterston application was the first in the UK for a new power station burning coal since rules forcing all new plants to be fitted with carbon capture technology were introduced last year.
Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: "The fact is that this technology SNP plans to rely on has been holed below the waterline.”
"This research concludes that burying the carbon dioxide from a full-size commercial power station would require underground storage roughly the size of a small US state – a luxury we simply do not have."
Carbon capture technology enables power stations – currently among the world's biggest polluters – to continue operating without putting climate change targets at risk. It captures emissions from the power station which are then sent through pipes and held underground in places such as disused gas fields under the North Sea.
The new research paper questioning the technology was published in the Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering by Christine Ehlig-Economides of Texas A&M University and Michael Economides of the University of Houston.
It said: "Our very sobering conclusion is that underground carbon dioxide sequestration via bulk injection is not feasible at any cost."
Lewis Macdonald, energy spokesman for Scottish Labour, said: ''Carbon capture and storage (CCS) offer huge potential for reducing harmful emissions in future, but the technology has still to be proven at scale."
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband last week gave the go-ahead to take forward to the next stage the project to demonstrate that CCS can work on a large scale, both technically and commercially, at Longannet.
"Approving a new coal-fired power station before CCS is shown to work at scale could mean millions of tonnes of unabated new carbon emissions from Hunterston. That is why we voted against this proposal."
Other studies into CCS are being carried in Ohio, Algeria and the North Sea, and Professor Stuart Haszeldine, a chartered geologist at Edinburgh University, said this work would be more relevant to Scotland than the Texas research paper.
"The opinion of several experts is that there are a number of technical flaws in the article," he said.
"This should not affect the Scottish Government's plans, but any individual site needs testing to see how it performs."
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Our ambition is to become a world leader in producing clean, green energy as part of our contribution to tackling climate change.”
"Independent, academic-led research looking at the opportunities for carbon capture and storage in Scotland clearly shows we have a vast capacity in the North Sea to capture safely and store emissions from industrial coal-fired plants for the next 200 years."
The Scottish Government is taking the vote into account and will consider the proposal further in due course.
A spokesman for Ayrshire Power said: "We remain determined to deploy CCS at full scale on a modern super-critical power station, supported by appropriate regulatory and fiscal measures." (Source: The Scotsman)
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