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Carbon capture technology to create: "30,000-60,000 jobs"

Developing Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology will generate up to 60,000 jobs in fields as diverse as engineering, manufacturing and procurement, according to new research published by the government today.

New coal-fired power stations must be designed to have CCS technology retro-fitted to them within five years of a demonstration plant ‘proving’ the technique.

The research, “Future Value Of Coal Carbon Abatement Technologies To UK Industry”by AEA Group, was published alongside the Government’s consultation document “A framework for the development of clean coal”.

The two documents suggest that CCS could bring between £2bn and £4bn into the UK economy every year by 2030, and support between 30,000-60,000 jobs.

Demonstation plants to be built

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said: “The conditions we’re proposing for new coal are the most environmentally ambitious of any country in the world, requiring the demonstration of CCS on a substantial proportion of any new power station and the 100% retrofit of CCS when it’s proven. 

“At the same time, by providing funding for demonstrations, we can maintain coal as part of our energy mix, supporting diversity and therefore security of supply.

“By acting early, jobs will also be created as Britain develops the expertise in what could be a major new industry, with CCS projects offering the potential to form the hubs for clusters of low carbon industries.

“By driving the development of CCS in this country, we are also, as a country, playing an essential role in the battle against climate change.”


However, Director of Business Environment at the CBI Dr Neil Bentley, said: “It is disappointing that there will be further delays in the existing CCS competition. This was launched in 2007 and should have been finalised this month.

“CCS will be a transformative technology. We know it can work on a small scale, but is not yet fully commercially viable for large plants, so it is important that this consultation needs to result in a clear and cost-effective framework for its development.

“Coal is a core part of the UK’s energy mix and developing CCS technology is the key to reducing the impact of coal-fired power stations on the environment.The government must now show real urgency and vision to ensure UK CCS demonstration plants can be up and running as soon as possible,” he said.

The government proposes:

  • New coal fired power stations should only be given consent in the UK if they demonstrate CCS on at least 300MW net (around 400MW gross) of capacity from day one. 
  • Each demonstration project would have to store 20M tonnes of CO2 over 10-15 years. 
  • The proposed framework recognises that CCS demonstration will only proceed with Government intervention. 
  • A financial incentive funded by electricity suppliers will support up to four commercial-scale CCS demonstrations in the UK. 
  • Alongside the Government’s ongoing competition to build a post-combustion demonstration, up to three further projects including pre-combustion technology could be supported. 
  • The primary legislation required to implement this mechanism will be sought at the earliest possible opportunity.
  • All new coal fired power stations should be required to retrofit CCS to their full capacity within five years of CCS being proven - hoped to be 2020.
  • An independent review, potentially led by the Environment Agency, would report in that year on the status of the technology.
  • Requirements could be extended to existing coal fired power stations.

However, if CCS takes longer than expected to be judged proven, the government proposes additional measures ensure emissions from coal are substantially reduced, such as an annual cap on individual power stations’ emissions, a limit on running hours or an emissions performance standard that would limit the amount of CO2 that could be emitted per unit of electricity generated.

Environment Agency approval

Environment agency chair Lord Chris Smith said: “This is a big step forward for UK climate policy. The Government’s decision not to build any new coal power stations without carbon capture technology offers real hope of a new era of ‘clean coal’. It is an essential element of any sensible energy policy for the next 20 years and is vital in our fight against climate change.

“The proposal for up to four large scale demonstration projects in the UK will help ensure the technology is robust and we welcome the proposed role for the Environment Agency in assessing when the technology is proven and should be retrofitted.

“The Environment Agency recognise that there are still some significant issues to address including contingency plans should it take longer than anticipated to prove the technology. We will be working with the Department for Energy and Climate Change to ensure such obstacles are overcome,” he said.

Union backing

The Unite Union’s national officer, Dougie Rooney, welcomed the news. “This is world leading environmental technology and presents the opportunity to create thousands of skilled jobs. The government’s proposals must be commercially viable to create the right environment for UK companies like Scottish Power which is investing in clean coal.

“Britain has taken the lead in developing this technology but we need to capitalise on this lead to create an engineering supply chain that can manufacture the necessary components and equipment. 

“The export potential is global and reaches out to countries including India and China. The opportunity to create thousands of highly skilled jobs in the UK over the next 5 years cannot be missed, it has to be realised. “

Readers' comments (1)

  • What is CCS? It is Carbon Capture and Storage. CO2 is never mentioned. To bury CO2 is frankly nuts. CO2 is only one third carbon, the rest is oxygen. Use some of the heat to produce biocarbon using wood, straw, grasses as the feedstock. The resultant charcoal,98% carbon, can be added to our land to improve fertility. This can be done now in the UK. Why not start a trial right now, Mr Miliband?

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