The boss of ScottishPower said in Aberdeen last night that, 35 years on from first North Sea oil a new chapter could be opening with carbon capture and storage (CCS).
Delivering the Scottish Council for Development and Industry’s 2010 annual lecture, Nick Horler said his company was now down to the last two in the UK Government’s competition to deliver full-scale CCS; a competition set up after what many people believe was a missed opportunity at Peterhead in 2007.
He said: “When the competition was launched, there was a great deal of uncertainty about the true scale of economic potential. It’s only more recently, as we have come to understand the scale of what’s required to tackle climate change, have we been able to see the size of the rewards on offer.
“The Department for Energy and Climate Change recently launched its consultation on clean coal with an independent report commissioned by them estimating that clean coal technology could bring between £2-£4billion a year into the UK economy by 2030, and support up to 60,000 jobs in engineering, manufacturing and procurement.”
Mr Horler said the challenges were how to balance an ever-increasing demand for energy with the need to maintain security of supply and be able to keep the lights on with a need to ensure less damage to the environment by reducing CO.
He said: “Against that backdrop, I believe there are three key reasons why our bid to be the first to deliver CCS is going to be crucial to the UK and Scottish economy. First we want to show retro-fit CCS technology works. In short, if we can do it at Longannet (ScottishPower’s power station in Fife) then we can apply the technology to more or less any one of the 20,000 or so coal-fired power stations around the world.
“This is important because it avoids what’s known as carbon lock-in, which means you can reduce the carbon emissions of existing power stations. You don’t have to scrap what you have and build new ones to meet your emission reduction targets.
“Second, we can do this by 2014. That’s a year ahead of just about everyone else when it comes to this particular brand of retrofitted post-combustion CCS, and 2014 is not a date we’ve just plucked out of the air.
“And third, perhaps most importantly for Scotland and the UK, we’ll be storing offshore in the central North Sea, reusing many of the very same assets that have bought us the wealth, jobs and exportable skills we’ve all enjoyed for so long, which in many cases we are poised to start decommissioning.
“Let’s not just make carbon capture a reality in Scotland, but let’s make storage in the central North Sea a fundamental part of our future too.”