Co-operation key to slashing cost of ambitious project

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UP to 80 per cent could be sliced off the cost of carbon capture projects in Yorkshire if the region’s major power firms and industries work together to build a shared pipeline for their CO2, a major new report has concluded.

Dr Stephen Brown, head of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) for regional consultancy firm CO2Sense, said yesterday it made “clear economic sense” to build a single, over-sized pipeline for carbon emissions now so that all heavy industries could eventually feed into it as the technology develops over the next 20 years.

CO2Sense’s report suggests the construction of a single vast pipeline would cost £2bn but could create up to 55,000 jobs over the next 20 years, adding more than £30bn to the region’s economy.

The key problem remains finding funding – but Dr Brown made it clear that it will cost industry and the UK as a whole far less to work together on a shared scheme than to build a collection of individual CO2 pipelines.

“Our studies show the cost plummets by 80 per cent if a shared approach is taken,” Dr Brown said.

CO2Sense now chairs regular meetings of all the key players in Yorkshire’s fledgling CCS sector. They include three energy firms looking to build new CCS power stations in the region, plus a string of heavy industries who hope to eventually pour their own carbon emissions into the pipeline.

The largest of these is Tata Steel, whose vast steelworks in Scunthorpe is the region’s second-largest polluter after Drax Power Station when working at full capacity.

Bruce Adderley of Tata Steel said: “It really is vitally important that the most cost-effective (CO2) transport infrastructure gets built, not just for the power sector but for lots of other industrial sectors as well.

“Our target at the moment is to reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 – but we realised some years ago that we are going to have to go a lot further than that in the long-term. It’s going to have to be 80 or 90 per cent.

“But there is a limit to how much you can reduce the amount of carbon you use when you are dealing with blast furnaces. We won’t be getting to 50 per cent-plus cuts without the use of CCS. So we very much want to be joining a pipe network in the next phase of the project, in the 2020s.”

Plans for the scheme are moving forward slowly. The National Grid published proposals for the first stage of a pipeline earlier this year, stretching from the planned ‘clean coal’ power station at Hatfield to the banks of the River Humber.

“We’ve had a very positive response to this from people in Yorkshire,” said the firm’s head of CCS, Jim Ward. “People here are engaged with the climate change agenda and want to make this happen. We are now at a stage where we are about to announce our preferred route for the first stage of this pipe.”