E.ON’s CO2 Pipeline Plans from the New Kingsnorth

Village Voices is a community newsletter for Hoo and Chattenden sponsored by E.ON and, as you would expect, often contains a PR piece about Kingsnorth.

The current issue (June/July 2010) of Village Voices describes how “plans for a carbon dioxide (CO2) pipeline from the proposed new cleaner coal-fired [are they moving away from the phrase “clean coal”?] Kingsnorth power station to the North Sea have been progressing since E.ON submitted environmental scoping reports to Medway Council in March.”

Exisiting Kingsnorth Power Station

Exisiting Kingsnorth Power Station

E.ON’s plans are part of a vision for Kingsnorth to be the gateway to carbon capture and storage (CCS) development in the UK, enabling the future development of a CCS cluster in the south-east.

Ed Walker, E.ON’s project development manager, believes their plans for Kingsnorth represent the best opportunity to provide industrial scale evidence of the viability of CCS and the role it could play in meeting the UK’s future energy needs.  There are just a few problems with Mr. Walker’s belief and here are some examples:

  • even if you accept the need for CCS with fossil fuels, surely the best way to provide evidence of its viability is to retrofit it to an existing plant?  After all, we keep hearing how important existing plants are to the world’s energy needs and how they must stay in use so need CCS;
  • the government expects its CCS demonstrations to last 10-15 years (capturing only about 25% of the CO2 for a 1,600MW power station) and, in a 2006 press release, E.ON stated it expected first power to be produced in four to five years – assuming E.ON started construction in 2010, it would be 2024-2030 before the possibility of “proving” CCS works but the report Zero Carbon Britain 2030 – A New Energy Strategy shows how we can be zero carbon (without using CCS with fossil fuels) by 2030;
  • a recent report by Friends of the Earth (FOE) Denmark has shown the mitigation potential of CCS on coal is insignificant – please read our Blow to Emissions Claims for Kingsnorth and Other Plants blog for further details; and
  • there is no such thing as “clean coal” and “cleaner coal” just refers to a small reduction in the CO2 emissions – please read our Kingsnorth blog for an overview of the report Coal’s Assault on Human Health by the Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Our Kingsnorth blog referred to above also provides a short list of issues with CCS (not least of which is the fact that to deal with climate change, the CO2 will need to be stored for thousands of years and how can demonstrations lasting 10-15 years prove storage is safe for thousands of years?)

It should also not be forgotten that the present CO2 concentrations are just under 390ppm and the safe upper limit is considered to be 350ppm, therefore, we need to move urgently to sources of electricity which are zero carbon rather than “low carbon” or “lower carbon”.  The need for urgency and zero carbon rules out nuclear and “cleaner” fossil fuels through CCS as they fail on both counts.

David M. Davison

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