America “leads race for CCS”

North America is leading the race to develop a successful working Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project, a new study out today suggests. The United States and Canada hold the […]

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By Vicky Ellis

North America is leading the race to develop a successful working Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project, a new study out today suggests.

The United States and Canada hold the top four places in Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s ranking of the world’s most advanced large‐scale demonstration projects.

The findings could come as an embarrassment for the UK, with ministers claiming Britain could be a “world leader” in the technology.

CCS technology takes CO2 gas out of the atmosphere, mostly from the exhaust of coal or gas‐fired power stations, when it can be recycled or stored underground. The technology is seen as essential for the world to cut greenhouse gas emissions while using fossil fuels such as natural gas.

The BNEF study found US and Canadian projects benefit from more public funding, lower storage costs and more options for enhanced oil recovery than those elsewhere.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts eight of the 24 projects in its ‘Race To First’ report will enter operation over the coming five years.

The frontrunner is a $431million (£275m) project at Port Arthur in Texas and is on track to be operating from the beginning of 2013. It is set to capture one million tonnes of CO2 a year from two steam methane reformers at Texas refinery.

The leading European project is German supplier E.ON’s CCS initiative at the Maasvlakte coal‐fired plant in Rotterdam, Netherlands, which takes the fifth spot in the list.

Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance said “the stakes couldn’t be higher” for CCS to be successful: “It has been clear for years that if the world’s industrial and power generation sectors are not to see a large part of their asset base rendered obsolete, they need carbon capture and storage to work.

“But not one large‐scale, end‐to-end project has yet been built and the technologies still have to prove their cost‐effectiveness… Very soon the first projects will go live and we will start getting the first real data on performance.”

The UK’s own progress with CCS had a serious setback last year when the Government pulled the funding for the Longannet project in Scotland. It is now offering the cash from it to three other projects, due to be picked shortly.