Britain Still Committed To Carbon Capture: Minister
Author: Nina Chestney
Britain is still committed to developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology as part of its efforts to reduce carbon emissions, Britain's energy and climate change minister said on Monday.
CCS may cut the contribution of coal- and gas-fired power plants to global warming by trapping and burying the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, but it is as yet untested on a commercial scale.
"With a new coal-powered plant opening in China every week, our ability to develop carbon capture and storage on a commercial scale makes business sense," said Chris Huhne at a carbon conference in London.
Those who view CCS as a "sticking plaster solution" to the problem of increasing emissions are mistaken, he added.
Britain hopes to be able to export the technology to big coal burners like China and India, but some industry observers say China could develop its own CCS equipment more rapidly and cheaply.
Last week, the budget for a CCS facility at the Statoil refinery in Mongstad, Norway, was estimated to have risen to 6 billion crowns from the original 700 million crowns forecast in 2006.
The Mongstad project was initially seen as one of the first to start full-scale operation, but has been plagued by setbacks.
Britain plans to fund four demonstration CCS projects by 2020. The British government is looking for three more CCS projects in addition to the first demonstration competition, which E.ON's Kingsnorth and Ibedrola owned Scottish Power's Longannet plants are still battling over.
E.ON UK has said it could delay building its Kingsnorth plant for up to three years because of lower demand for electricity, which would take the plant completion date beyond the competition deadline of 2014.
Huhne also said the price of carbon in the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) was not high enough to spur investors such as utilities to invest in such carbon cutting technology.
The price of carbon permits in the EU ETS was around 15.20 euros ($20.97) a metric ton on Monday but investors have said it needs to reach at least 50 euros to spur such investment.
"There is not enough certainty to give investors confidence," Huhne said.
"Although our Climate Change Levy can help our own first-mover advantage, it is not a substitute in the long run for a greater contribution at an EU level," he added.
Britain wants the European Union to move to a 30 percent emissions reduction target by 2020 instead of the current 20 percent.
(Editing by Alison Birrane)