UK opens largest carbon capture pilot plant

The largest carbon capture pilot plant in the UK was opened yesterday by UK energy secretary Chris Huhne.

The facility at Ferrybridge in Yorkshire is operated by SSE and was integrated into the existing power station ” which provides 5 per cent of the UK’s power ” with project partners Doosan Power Systems and Vattenfall.

There’s a lot riding on the plant ” following the scrapping last month of the Longannet CCS project in Scotland, Ferrybridge will be the litmus test for carbon capture schemes not just in the UK but throughout Europe.

Huhne called the opening of the plant a “milestone” and said it was “a critical bridge to the long term carbon capture ambitions” of the UK. He added that the Longannet outcome had been “disappointing, but we learned a lot”, and added that Ferrybridge was now the “flagship project”.

Ian Marchant, chief executive of SSE (formerly Scottish & Southern Energy), said another CCS facility the company is developing in Peterhead, Scotland, is “completely dependent on the learning” from Ferrybridge.

“This is the future of energy… this is real world stuff in a real world power station,” said Marchant, who explained that the idea for the project was born out of a discussion in a pub between himself and Doonsan’s technology director Mike Farley.

Jean-Michel Aubertin, chief executive of Doosan Power Systems, said that while “you have a lot of pilot schemes in the world, but this one is a very good representation of what bigger carbon capture plants in the future could be. Running this type of plant shows you everything about CCS.”

Vattenfall vice-president Karl Bergman said Ferrybridge would offer “valuable insights on how carbon capture can be moved forward, as well as to validate our performance from an R&D perspective”.

Yet he added that the biggest hurdle that CCS had to overcome was not technology, but “the political situation” in countries such as Germany and The Netherlands, which are holding back on CCS investment.

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