Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum from ScottishPower


  1.  ScottishPower welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Science and Technology Committee's inquiry on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology. As well as operating some 5400MW of coal- and natural gas-fired generation capacity in the UK, ScottishPower is the UK's leading developer of wind power. We are committed to increasing generation from cleaner fuel sources and support developments that seek to explore the potential for carbon abatement technologies (CATs).

  2.  Tackling the issue of global climate change and the impact of legislation designed to realise significant reductions in CO2 emissions is creating a drive for new electricity generation using CO2 emission-free technologies and for technologies which reduce and mitigate the effects of CO2 emissions. Worldwide, however, coal and natural gas are likely to remain the dominant fuels for electricity generation—even in the long term. This reinforces the need to develop CATs, which capture CO2 emissions as a feature of the electricity industry for the long term.


  3.  ScottishPower supports the aspirations set out in the Government's Carbon Abatement Technologies Strategy (Department of Trade & Industry, June 2005), and welcome the Strategy's commitment to making available additional support for the development of demonstration plants for CO2 capture and storage.

  4.  Launching the Strategy, the Energy Minister said, "It's clear that the long term benefits of capture and storage, which would reduce emissions from power plant by up to 85%, merit significant investment now." We agree with this view. However it is clear that the UK must decide whether to be a leader or a follower in the development of carbon abatement technologies.

  5.  Unless moves are taken swiftly to develop UK-driven solutions, there will soon be greater advantage in importing technologies, which have been developed abroad. Failure to make progress today could preclude the UK from the manufacturing and technology transfer benefits that could be realised from a UK-driven initiative.

  6.  Although there is much ongoing work abroad on CCS, which could be harnessed in the UK, there remains the risk that technologies developed overseas may not be suitable for use with the current UK generating fleet. As it is easier to capture the CO2 from gas-fired station flue gases than from coal-fired plant (particularly from IGCC generators where capture occurs before firing), the growing domination of the UK's generation fleet by natural gas means that it is sensible to investigate the potential application of CCS technologies. Equally, it is worth noting that capture reduces the efficiency of a station and therefore increases the costs of electricity produced. CCS thus becomes economic to undertake at the point when this cost is less that the price/penalty of CO2 emissions.

  7.  With the right incentives to invest, UK-based companies with a thorough understanding of our current coal and gas fleet could be well placed to develop new and appropriate technologies, particularly as we believe that there is potential for CO2 storage in the UK Continental Shelf. Although the case for Enhanced Oil Recovery can often be overstated, this may prove to be an additional attraction for investment.

  8.  However, with project viability only existing in the long-term, we believe that the UK is unlikely to become a world leader (and exporter) of CCS technology unless a significantly greater package of financial and regulatory support becomes available.


  9.  The June 2005 CAT Strategy announced a £40 million for emerging low-carbon technologies, £25 million of which is expected to be dedicated to the funding of demonstration projects for cleaner electricity from coal and gas. While welcoming the Strategy, it should be observed that this level of provision is small relative to the funding already committed by the United States government for the development of CCS.

  10.  ScottishPower believes there are opportunities for the UK to work in a complementary way to develop upon advances already being made in other countries. Our concern remains that for the UK CAT Strategy to deliver realistically benefits and products that are commercially viable, the Government will need to provide stronger leadership and incentives than those outlined to date. Given the other environmental measures already in place, it is unclear what priority CATs will actually have within future energy policy.

September 2005

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