BP has pulled out of the UK government’s competition to build a prototype power station that will capture and store its carbon dioxide emissions, in a setback to plans to develop technologies for cutting the output of greenhouse gases while continuing to use fossil fuels.
Britain’s biggest energy company will instead focus its carbon capture programme on its joint venture with Rio Tinto, the mining group, which is developing projects in California and Abu Dhabi.
Shell recently pulled out of a UK government energy initiative, withdrawing from the London Array wind turbine project and citing better projects in the US. BP’s has also taken the decision to focus its wind power business on the US, where most of its activity is concentrated.
The government is offering a subsidy of several hundred million pounds to the competition winner, to build an integrated project including a coal-fired power station and equipment to separate carbon dioxide from the waste gases and take care of storage.
The winner is to be chosen as the preferred bidder by the end of next year, with the aim of having the project in operation by the end of 2014. Four groups made the shortlist chosen by the government over the summer: BP, Eon UK, ScottishPower and Peel Holdings.
BP last month told the Department of Energy and Climate Change that it would drop out, having failed to find a partner with coal-fired power generation experience.
Jeff Chapman, chief executive of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, said he was “concerned” that the timetable for the competition appeared to be slipping. He said Britain needed to grasp carbon capture and storage as a matter of urgency. See CCSA membership list here.
Politicians around the world appear to be warming to the idea of carbon capture, banning new build coal fired power stations that don’t incorporate CCS into their plans. See here for useful summary.
Low-tech magazine has a very interesting, comprehensive & useful post on the prospects for carbon capture. The problem at hand is that the process of capturing, transporting and storing carbon dioxide requires a vast amount of energy.
It lays out the various options being looked at but points out that storing CO2 is – just like storing atomic waste – a very irresponsible thing to do in respect to future generations. Will people in 2178 still know where CO2 was stored? Will the corks hold until that date? Risk analysis does not seem to look too far ahead.
Low-tech suggests channelling the huge amounts of money needed for the development of CCS to countries with tropical rainforests instead, so that they have a very good reason to protect them.
Stopping deforestation, especially in tropical forests, would contribute more to the fight against global warming than carbon capture technology could ever do.