Plans to build the UK’s first ‘clean coal’ power station near Leeds have taken a massive step forward after the Government committed public funds to the scheme for the first time.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey visited Drax power station yesterday to announce the ambitious ‘White Rose’ power project will be the first in the country to receive funding from the Government’s £1 billion carbon capture and storage (CCS) programme.
While not yet agreeing the final go-ahead for a proposed new 426MW coal-fired power station, the Government’s decision to fund a highly-detailed engineering study is a clear signal it ultimately expects the project to go ahead.
If approved, the project would create around 2,000 local construction jobs.
Critically, Mr Davey confirmed the project would include the construction by National Grid of an underground CO2 pipeline large enough for other major industrial sites around the area to tap into.
Planners believe this could form the first part of a Yorkshire-wide CO2 storage network that would secure the future of many of the region’s heavily polluting industries for years to come - while also potentially attracting other major industries to set up new facilities along the route.
“The White Rose project really offers the potential to kick start CCS in the region, creating up to 2,000 green jobs,” Mr Davey said.
“Yorkshire is ideally suited to the development of CCS with lots of large emitters and significant storage space offshore. It’s great to be able to take it to the next stage with funding for the study.”
CCS is a new technology being developed around the world to help cut carbon emissions from heavily-polluting industrial sites such as power stations.
Harmful CO2 emissions are captured before they are released into the atmosphere, then liquefied and pumped down pipelines to be buried deep underground.
Yorkshire has long been seen as the perfect place to trial the technology due to its cluster of heavy polluters and their proximity to depleted oil and gas fields beneath the North Sea, where scientists believe millions of tons of CO2 could safely be stored.
Regional planners have been lobbying Government for years to build the world’s first shared CO2 pipeline in Yorkshire, large enough to stretch from the Aire Valley to the mouth of the Humber and taking in numerous heavy polluters along the way.
If final approval is agreed, the pipeline from Drax’s new clean coal power station should prove the first stage of that vision.