Hatfield power scheme in line for EU windfall

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A proposed ‘clean coal’ power station at Hatfield Colliery in South Yorkshire is in line for more than £250m of EU funding after it was named the best CCS project in Europe by officials in Brussels.

A document released by the European Commission on Thursday night reveals the Don Valley Power Project has been deemed the top entry in its continent-wide £1.2bn carbon capture and storage funding competition.

The announcement marks a major step forward for the project at Hatfield, near Doncaster, which has remained stuck on the drawing board for the past four years as its backers strive to drum up the £3bn required to get the UK’s first clean coal power station off the ground. They have already won £160m from the EU in a previous funding round, as well as the backing of key investors including Samsung and BOC.

There was mixed news for rival ‘clean coal’ schemes at Drax power station in Selby and Killingholme in North Lincolnshire, which were named the fifth and sixth best schemes in Europe but look set to miss out on funding due to a huge shortfall in the money being made available by the EU.

The Yorkshire Post revealed in January that only two or three CCS schemes across the whole of Europe are now likely to receive funding, rather than the eight or nine originally envisaged.

Yorkshire-based experts nonetheless said the announcement ”opens the way” for the region to host the world’s first cluster of CCS projects - potentially creating thousands of new jobs and securing the region’s heavy industries for decades to come.

“This is great news for Yorkshire and the Humber,” said Dr Stephen Brown, director of strategy at low-carbon consultancy CO2Sense.

“Yorkshire is the only region in Europe to have three projects in the shortlist, which opens the way to the development of a cluster of CCS projects in the region sharing a common CO2 (pipeline).”

CCS is a cutting-edge process in which CO2 is captured from power stations or heavy industry before it is released, and then transported along pipes and permanently buried below the ground.

Scientists believe it has a key part to play in efforts to cut carbon emissions while continuing to burn coal and carry out other key industrial processes.

Yorkshire is seen as one of the best places in Europe to trial CCS, due to the number of heavy polluters clustered together and its proximity to disused oil and gas fields out in the North Sea where experts believe millions of tons of CO2 could be stored.

Lewis Gillies, chief executive of 2Co Energy, the firm behind the Hatfield scheme, said: “It will be several months before any real winners can be confirmed, but these EU rankings show the UK is without doubt the best place in Europe to commercialise CCS.”

To secure the European money, the 2CO must now convince the UK Government to provide match-funding through its own CCS competition, with £1bn of public funds being made available by the Treasury for up to four projects around the country.

Project managers at Drax and Killingholme remain hopeful that being rated in the top six schemes in Europe will mean they are also strong favourites to receive UK funding.

The Yorkshire Post is calling on Ministers to support the region’s ambitious CCS plans as part of its Give us a Fair deal campaign.

Scientists have drawn up plans for a region-wide CO2 pipeline that would run underground from the Aire Valley to the Humber estuary and out into the North Sea, taking in all Yorkshire’s major polluters such as Ferrybridge Power Station, Drax and Tata Steel.

It is estimated the scheme would create thousands of jobs and cut the UK’s entire carbon output by 10 per cent.