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Parsons Brinckerhoff to advise UK government on carbon capture and storage

Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) has been appointed by the UK Government to support its competition to build one of the world's first commercial scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) plants. The competition was launched by the Prime Minister in his speech on climate change on 19 November 2007.

PB has been advising the UK Government on technical aspects leading up to the competition since January 2007, when it commenced a review of potential UK power generation CCS projects for the then DTI.

The review advised Budget and Energy White Paper Statements announcing that the Government would support a UK demonstration power generation project, covering the full carbon capture, transport and long-term storage chain on a commercial scale, capturing the carbon dioxide from the generation of 300 to 400 MW.

In his speech on 19 November, Prime Minister Gordon Brown highlighted a number of initiatives to decarbonise energy sources. This included the formal launch of the UK's competition for a CCS demonstration project.

Mr Brown said: "With China alone building an average of two coal-fired power stations every week, the development in the UK of technology to capture and safely store up to 90% of CO2 emissions is critically important. The launch of the competition today puts the UK on track to build within seven years one of the world's first commercial-scale CCS projects on a coal-fired power station."

Prior to this announcement the Government confirmed that the project should demonstrate post-combustion CCS on a coal-fired power station, with CO2 stored offshore. Post-combustion technology can be retrofitted to the vast proportion of existing and planned coal-fired power stations, and it complements developments in Norway and the United States of alternative CCS technologies.

Commenting on the project, Mike Wheeler, PB's Engineering Director and CCS specialist, said: "This is a massively important initiative and it can only be hoped that other governments will follow the UK government's lead – along with Norway and the US - and develop similar demonstration projects to prove the technology in this critical area.

"Developing this technology in the UK should also present business opportunities to the UK when retrofitting carbon capture technology on the many hundreds of power stations currently being built across the developing world becomes a political imperative. Without CCS they would continue to emit billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide for the next 30 to 40 years."

Shortlisted bidders will be revealed in April, the winner in mid-2009. Plants should be open by 2014. The Government has stated that it will consider a phased approach provided the full CCS chain is demonstrated by 2014 and the project captures around 90% of the CO2 emitted by the equivalent of 300 to 400 MW generating capacity.

MEPs have told NCE that CCS technology may not become commercially viable unless there is a change in the emissions trading schemes. CCS is not currently part of the emissions trading scheme, as diverted CO2 is not considered to be an emission.

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