Invisible Dust

London | Tuesday 23 July
Pollution level: Moderate

UK must embrace carbon capture, fast.


A recent MP report has made it clear that carbon capture and storage (CCS) plants in the UK must get the go ahead this year.

CCS devices capture and bury the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases resulting from burning fossil fuels. The report claims that this is a vital technology because burning all existing fossil fuel reserves without capturing their emissions would drive global warming well above the 2C threshold that scientists describe as dangerous.

MP Tim Yeo, chair of the energy and climate change select committee (ECC) remarked that: “Fitting power stations with CCS is absolutely vital if we are to avoid dangerously destabilising the climate.”

Development of CCS in the UK was delayed after a one billion pound competition in 2007 to develop the first plants had to be restarted in 2011 when the last competitor withdrew.

Now, after nearly a decade of delay, the Department of Energy and Climate Change is near to delivering two pilot carbon capture system projects in the UK. The report stressed that these projects must now be fast tracked and reach final investment decisions before the election to ensure this technology can start delivering carbon savings by the 2020’s.

If the pilot projects go ahead they will fit CCS to a gas-fired power station in Peterhead and to the coal-fired power station at Drax in Yorkshire.

According to the ECC the pilots would not be enough to kick-start the large CCS industry needed in the UK to cut carbon significantly but the UK is none the less very well placed to become a world leader in CCS. This is due to its access to the North Sea, where CO2 could be buried in exhausted oil and gas fields, the UK’s engineering expertise and the cross-party commitment to cutting carbon.

You can learn more on this story by reading the Guardian article by Damian Carrington or joining their debate.

The image was taken with an electron microscope, and shows the aftermath of fayalite reacting with gaseous CO2 to form siderite, thereby capturing the CO2 in a solid, stable form. Credit: Courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory



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