Time to back pioneering Yorkshire technology, MPs tell Government

MINISTERs should end a decade of delay and back developing technology which could deliver thousands of jobs and a £1.3bn boost for the economy, according to a new report.

Aerial 3D illustration of the White Rose CCS Project alongside Drax Power Station

The Government is urged by MPs to end years of deliberation and invest in the White Rose Project, at the Drax power station near Selby, which will pioneer carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology before next year’s General Election.

The Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee report calls for other CCS schemes, such as the Don Valley Power Project, to have the same access to Government support as other forms of energy such as offshore wind.

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CCS involves power stations capturing the gases that can harm the environment so they can be stored underground.

The last Government first launched a £1bn competition to find projects to pioneer the technology in 2007

But seven years on its successor has yet to make a final decision on whether to support the remaining schemes - the White Rose Project and a second in Scotland.

Energy and Climate Change Committee chairman Tim Yeo said: “Fitting power stations with technology to capture and store carbon is absolutely vital if we are to avoid dangerously destabilizing the climate.

“After nearly a decade of delay DECC has finally got near to delivering two pilot Carbon Capture and Storage projects in the UK.

“It must now fast-track these projects and reach final investment decisions before the election to ensure this technology can start delivering carbon savings by the 2020s.”

He added: “The ‘competition’ the Government launched to award capital support to CCS has turned out to be a model example of how not to support a fledgling industry, taking successive governments the best part of 10 years to complete.”

Yorkshire has long been considered a prime area to develop CCS technology because of its history in power generation and proximity to the North Sea where gases could be stored under the sea bed.

A report published two years ago suggested the White Rose Project could be part of a wider “cluster” of CCS schemes in Yorkshire together creating 4,000 skilled jobs.

Plans are in place to develop a network of pipelines across the region linking power generators and heavy energy users that could transport harmful gases to be stored under the Norh Sea.

European Union funding is available to support the new industry but needs to be matched by the Government before it can be released.

Yorkshire MEP Linda McAvan said: “The EU funding for CCS projects has been on the table for months and our government has failed to apply for it.

“I urge David Cameron to finally listen to his MPs, engage properly with the EU to unlock match funding and progress the project at Drax without further delay.”

Energy Minister Michael Fallon said with energy contracts being awarded for years to come it was important the Government made the right decisions following a “robust” process.

“The UK is ahead of the rest of Europe with two CCS projects in White Rose and Peterhead actively undertaking detailed engineering studies ahead of full construction.

“Our vision for CCS in the UK does not stop at these first projects. We want to see a strong and successful CCS industry able to compete on cost with other low carbon technologies in the 2020s,” he said.