A prototype carbon capture system has been retrofitted at ScottishPower's Longannet power station, capturing CO2 emissions from the coal-fired plant.
The prototype, developed by Aker Clean Carbon, is an exact, small-scale replica of a full-scale carbon capture plant. It will allow ScottishPower to test the complex chemistry involved in capturing CO2 from power station flue gases.
The prototype unit, which weighs 30 tonnes and covers an area of 85m2, will be able to process 1,000m3 of exhaust gas per hour from Longannet.
Among the tests being carried out, ScottishPower scientists will be monitoring the effectiveness of the chemical amine solution that captures the CO2 under different conditions. The data will allow the company to better understand the science before a full-scale demonstration project is built, eventually capturing up to 90 per cent of CO2 from Longannet.
Speaking at Longannet as the test unit was switched on this week, Nick Horler, chief executive of ScottishPower, said: 'The test unit uses the exact same technology that we aim to retrofit to the station for a commercial-scale CCS project by 2014, and the leap from 1MW to 330MW is now within sight. There are more than 50,000 fossil fuel power stations in operation throughout the world, and by proving that CCS technology can be retrofitted to existing stations, we can begin to address the carbon lock-in from these power plants.'
At the same time, ScottishPower’s parent company Iberdrola confirmed that it will establish a global Centre of Excellence to develop CCS technology in the UK. To launch this, the company will be funding a Chair in Carbon Capture and Storage at Edinburgh University to provide an academic focus for the Centre of Excellence.
The CCS Chair will be located in the Carbon Capture and Storage Group within the School of Geosciences, part of an alliance between Edinburgh University, Heriot Watt University and the British Geological Survey, known as the Scottish Centre for Carbon Storage.