Region’s green energy project will ‘beat rivals for funding’

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THE man leading one of the most ambitious ‘green energy’ schemes the UK has ever seen said he is confident the project will beat its rivals to achieve the funding needed to start construction.

Jonathan Briggs, the recently appointed managing director of 2Co Power (Yorkshire) which is part of 2Co Energy, said the £3bn Don Valley Power Project was “by far and away” the best timed, and the most technically advanced of all the carbon capture and storage schemes competing for funding.

Planning permission has already been granted for the coal gasification plant, which will generate 650 megawatts of power and capture 90 per cent of its entire CO2 output – up to five million tonnes a year.

Its business model centres on the vast CO2 storage and additional oil recovery potential under the North Sea.

The project, located next to Hatfield Colliery in Stainforth near Doncaster, has received an initial 180m euros from the EU.

However, 2Co is competing against a number of other projects in the UK and Europe for further cash to bring the scheme to fruition.

It expects to hear whether it has been shortlisted this month and hopes to receive a final decision by the end of the year. The rest of the funding will come from banks as well as some of the project participants themselves.

If the bids are successful, the main construction work could start in 2013 led by a team including John Murray, 2Co’s facilities general manager.

Speaking exclusively to the Yorkshire Post, Mr Briggs, who has worked on a number of other carbon capture and storage projects, said: “Having worked on some similar projects in different geographies, this project by far and away is the best timed, the most technically advanced. I think simply in terms of the local benefits it has the potential to unlock, there will be a lot of local support and government support...I’m very confident.”

The 110-acre site, which is currently undergoing preliminary ground preparation work, is more than twice the size of most other carbon capture and storage sites.

The project will provide low carbon electricity to the equivalent of around a million UK homes.

Mr Briggs previously led the Hydrogen Energy joint venture between BP and Rio Tinto in California, and was responsible for managing the $2.5bn carbon capture and storage project that is now under development by SCS Energy.

“The fundamentals are the same across all the projects,” he said. “You’re trying to take solid fuel and provide a facility that creates low carbon power and in doing so capture the carbon and economically use it for a beneficial purpose What changes (in each case) is geography, some of the local complexity and some of the benefits.”

It is his experience of dealing with these complex projects that 2Co hopes will benefit the Don Valley Power plant going forward.

“You are bringing together a large number of technologies that have never been put together in this way before,” he said. “Commercially, these projects are very complex. They involve a number of stakeholders, whether they are technology providers, contractors or project owner, so the level of stakeholder complexity is quite challenging.”

Aside from funding, the main difficulty in leading a project like this, according to Mr Briggs, is timing. “Whether it’s working to define the power plant itself, the pipeline or the offshore, moving the project along at the right speed and the right timeline is a challenge,” he said.

The project is expected to create around 2,000 construction jobs and around 200 new jobs when it opens. 2Co said it aimed to recruit locally and it hoped the project would help spark a number of apprenticeships and into work schemes.

2Co also plans to build a link road between the M18/M180 to Stainforth village as part of the development, improve the surrounding landscape and update the bridleway which sits adjacent to the Doncaster to Hull railway line.

Carbon capture and storage remains a new technology still to be demonstrated on a large scale. But if successful, experts believe a full-scale Yorkshire-wide CCS project has the potential to cut the UK’s entire carbon emissions by 10 per cent.