By Max Clarke

A total of 14 proposed carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects across UK have applied for funding from the EU’s New Entrant Reserve (NER) scheme — a fund worth between EUR4.5 billion and EUR9 billion to CCS and innovative renewable projects across the European Union.

CCS refers to the practice of storing CO2, chiefly in depleted oil and gas reservoirs, after the combustion of fuel. Oxyfuel, or burning fuels in pure oxygen instead of air, is one technology that lends itself to CCS projects as waste gasses are almost pure CO2, compared to air which comprises some 80% nitrogen.

Depleted oil and gas fields under the North Sea have the potential to store 5.3Gt and 10-15Gt, respectively. With a gross annual UK CO2 output of 0.5Gt, CCS projects could in theory secrete all UK emissions for up to 40 years

Several CCS projects exist globally, including the Salah gas field in the Central Sahara region of Algeria. Initiated by BP, the Salah field store can secrete 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 per year; and the Lacq gas plant in South Western France, an oxyfuel scheme which will inject 120,000 tonnes over 2 years.

“The strong level of interest received for CCS projects in particular is heartening — it shows that UK industry is keen to move forward in the development of CCS and confirms the lead that the UK is taking in this critical technology”, said Energy Minister Charles Hendry.

He continued: “The commitment this Government has shown for CCS is world-leading and it is encouraging to see that UK industry matches this ambition. Cleaner fossil fuel technologies present a huge opportunity for the UK and could potentially support up to 100,000 green jobs in the country by 2030.”

The Energy Minister also noted the strong interest in marine energy technologies.

Of the 14 applications received, nine were for CCS projects and five for innovative renewables.

Of the nine CCS applications:
• three are based in Scotland, six in England — with four in the Humber and two in the Teeside regions;
• seven are to capture CO2 from coal-fired power stations and two are to capture the emissions from gas-fired plants;
• two are retrofits to existing power stations, and the other seven are new power plants providing vital additional energy supply capacity; and
• five are for pre-combustion technology, three for post-combustion and one is for Oxyfuel.

Of the five innovative renewable applications:
• three are tidal stream projects based in Scotland;
• one is a wave project based in Scotland; and
• one is an offshore wind project based in the North East of England.

The Government has until 9 May this year to assess the applications against the NER and UK criteria and decide which to put forward to the European Investment Bank for further consideration.

Given the significant progress expected on CCS in 2011 the Government has decided to publish the CCS Roadmap in the Autumn rather than the Spring as originally planned. This is to ensure that we capture all the lessons learnt from: the Electricity Market Reform consultation, completing the Front End Engineering Design studies for the first demonstration project, finalising our approach to three further demonstrations, as well as assessing the nine projects applying for NER funding.