SSE to develop CO2-capture facility

Scottish and Southern Energy is seeking consent to develop the UK’s largest carbon-dioxide-capture trial facility at its Ferrybridge coal-fired power station near Castleford in Yorkshire.

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) is seeking consent to develop the UK’s largest carbon-dioxide-capture trial facility at its Ferrybridge coal-fired power station near Castleford in Yorkshire.

The £21m project is hoped to demonstrate the carbon-dioxide-capture element of carbon-capture and storage (CCS) technology. Trials will be jointly undertaken with a consortium of partners, including Renfrew-based steam-generator suppliers, Doosan Babcock.

The trials are due to begin in 2011 and will run through to the end of 2012. According to SSE, the facility will produce 100 tonnes of carbon dioxide per day – equivalent to 5MW of coal-fired power-generating capacity.

The group hopes that the project will bridge the gap between laboratory-scale trials currently underway and the larger-scale projects envisaged by the government, by demonstrating the operational characteristics of a capture plant at a full-scale power station.

Ian Marchant, chief executive of SSE, said: ‘Most people agree that the UK’s current portfolio of coal-fired power stations still have a crucial role to play in keeping the country’s lights on, but that role will have to alter if climate-change targets are to be met.

‘That needs a two-stage policy approach. We agree that no new coal-fired power stations should be built without full carbon-dioxide abatement, but another decision needs to be taken. We believe no coal-fired power stations without full carbon-dioxide abatement should be allowed to operate beyond 2030.’

Earlier this year, the government confirmed that new combustion power stations over 300MW in England and Wales will have to be designed ‘carbon-capture ready’. SSE is now urging the government to go a step further by ensuring full, rather than portioned, carbon-dioxide abatement on new coal-fired generation plants.

Marchant added: ‘This straightforward approach is consistent with security of energy supply and the UK’s legally binding carbon-emissions targets, while reflecting the fundamental change in energy production that will have to be made over the next 20 years.

‘The attention being focused on next month’s Copenhagen Climate Summit is justifiable but there is also an onus on organisations, companies and individuals to take their own action, and progressing carbon-capture technologies and placing a time limit on the operation of coal-fired power stations comes into that category.’

SSE is also involved in the world’s largest demonstration of oxyfuel-combustion-capture technology in Renfrew, in which coal is combusted in a mixture of oxygen and recirculated flue gas so that the resulting exhaust is almost pure carbon dioxide that can be captured and stored.