ScottishPower today flicked the switch on a test project to extract carbon dioxide emissions from its Longannet power station. It will be the first time in the UK that emissions have been captured from a working coal-fired power plant.
The company says the test puts it on track to deliver a full carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration project by 2014 in line with Government objectives.
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.
ScottishPower is among the firms participating in the UK Government’s competition to develop a commercial-scale CCS project.
Meanwhile, ScottishPower’s parent company Iberdrola, says it will establish a global Centre of Excellence to develop CCS technology in the UK. To launch this, the company will fund a Chair in Carbon Capture and Storage at the University of Edinburgh to provide a academic focus for the Centre of Excellence.
“We believe that the UK can lead the world with CCS technology, creating new skills, jobs and opportunities for growth,” said Ignacio Galán, chairman of ScottishPower and Iberdrola. “There is the potential to create an industry on the same scale as North Sea oil, and we will invest in Scotland and the UK to help realise this potential.”
The prototype CCS unit, which weighs 30 tonnes and covers an area of 85 square metres, will be able to process 1,000 cubic metres of exhaust gas per hour from Longannet. ScottishPower scientists will monitor the effectiveness of the chemical amine solution that captures the CO2 under different conditions. The data will allow ScottishPower to better understand the science before a full-scale demonstration project is built, eventually capturing up to 90 per cent of CO2 from Longannet.
“This is the first time that CCS technology has been switched on and working at an operational coal-fired power station in the UK, and is a major step forward in delivering the reality of carbon-free fossil fuel electricity generation,” said Nick Horler, chief executive of ScottishPower “It’s about taking the concept of CCS out of the lab and making it a full-scale commercial reality and that’s crucial if we hope to achieve tough carbon reduction targets.”