It’s unproven technology

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A recent news item of vital importance to the energy industry appears to have slipped by with very little, if any, comment.

The report was that the Government had abandoned its £1bn competition to find a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) system that could operate on a commercial scale.

It had two entries in the competition.

One by Shell and SSE at Peterhead power station, in Aberdeenshire, and the other by White Rose at Drax power station, at Selby, in North Yorkshire.

Shell said it has abandoned the CCS project at Peterhead altogether, although it will continue to explore the possibilities of CCS at some of its other sites around the world.

The CCS project is now in doubt at Drax.

This was once Britain’s biggest coal-burning power station but is now busy being converted to a wood-burning operation.

The decision by the Government has huge implications for two companies planning to exploit the coalfields off the North-East coast, namely Five-Quarter and Cluff Natural Resources.

Five-Quarter, which plans to exploit coalfields from about Alnmouth down to the Tyne, has long boasted that its underground coal gasification (UCG) operation would come complete with a CCS system.

What is its comment now after this latest Government decision, and after it has appeared to have lost one of the star names from its board, namely former Newcastle University professor Paul Younger?

Cluff Natural Resources will be exploiting coalfields from the Tyne down to about Hartlepool, and has also said it would use CCS.

CCS has been trotted out like a mantra by energy companies around the world as they continue to try to excavate coal or exploit it through UCG.

However CCS on a commercial scale is still an unproven technology.

Malcolm Scott,

North Tyneside Friends of the Earth,

Oxford Street,

Whitley Bay.