Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop said that today’s announcement (3rd April 2012) by the government of a re-opening of a competition to kick start a new generation of ‘Coal Carbon Capture’ Power Stations could be an opportunity for Teesside, but the government ‘must up its own cash offer” if this was to be realistic.
The competition – with a government cash offer of £1 billion across the UK – the same amount as before is for a new generation of “carbon capture and storage” (CCS) power stations which will prevent CO2 escaping into the atmosphere. Its attraction is that existing fossil fuels including coal and gas can be burned without releasing the usual quantities of CO2, the key greenhouse gas. Instead of being vented into the air, the gas would be trapped and then piped into long-term storage in old oil fields under the North Sea.
“There was, and still is, one potential bidder for this on Teesside in the shape of Progressive Energy, a firm that is looking to build a power station running on coal and which would utilise the existing pipe corridors linking Teesside to North Sea oil and gas fields. This would help reduce capital running costs for the local chemical industry who use these pipelines and would help to maximise the exploitation and costs of these oil and gas fields as well. A successful plant on Teesside would provide both direct operating and construction jobs and also possibly open up a market in similar plants for export abroad.”
“But there is one big problem. When this completion was open two years ago, there was interest from a number of areas, including ours. But all the potential bidders dropped out as the cash on offer was simply too small to defray or assist start up costs in any realistic fashion. CCS is potentially a winning combination for the UK and for areas like ours – but the Government have to think again about the cash they are putting on the table. It is ludicrous, in the old saying, to ‘spoil the ship for a halfpenny worth of tar’, but this, I am afraid, is what the government are doing.”