Speaking to BusinessGreen.com, Professor Stuart Hazeldine, a geologist at the University of Edinburgh and leading expert in CCS technologies, said that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) should close the competition and award the funding to Scottish Power to develop CCS at its Longannet plant in Fife in order to prevent any more time being wasted.
“Scottish Power are the only people who can deliver by 2014 now,” he said. ” The competition timescale has already slipped and to get it back on track the award needs to be made soon.”
Back in 2007 the government said it would award the winner of its CCS competition around £1 billion to help fund a commercial scale carbon capture demonstration project.
The government has said it plans to announce the winner some point next year with three proposals in the running: Longannet, RWE npower’s station at Tilbury in Essex, and E.ON’s plans for a new coal plant at Kingsnorth in Kent.
“RWE npower are showing a manifest lack of movement on their CCS offerings and E.ON have delayed Kingsnorth plans,” said Hazeldine. “That leaves one obvious winner.”
He added that the long-running competition had discouraged other firms from coming forward with project proposals. “The UK has such a slow track record on developing CCS that anyone who is able to has gone elsewhere,” he said. “We need to get on with it.”
The government has now committed to helping fund “up to four” CCS plants in the UK. The first – the competition winner – will be funded by the Treasury, but any further plants will be funded primarily from a levy on energy bills.
As well as awarding the competition to Scottish power, the government should announce a “feed study” – a detailed engineering evaluation – for CCS at Kingsnorth so that E.ON can install the technology when it likely revives the plant in the second half of this decade, Hazeldine advised.
Hazeldine first made his controversial recommendations at a Westminster energy forum last month, where Martin Deutz, director of the cleaner fossil fuels unit at DECC, defended the department’s position.
“It is an active commercial negotiation and I’m not going to say anything about the commercial position of each of the companies,” he said. “But I would say that the negotiations that we have been having with the bidders have thrown up a number of extremely interesting and important issues… they are important issues which have to be dealt with financially, operationally and in regulatory terms.”