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By Martin Kelly
Peterhead has emerged as the front runner in a contest to decide the location of the world's first Carbon Capture plant.
According to Energy Voice, the UK Government is "on the verge" of declaring the Scottish power plant the winner of a £1bn funding grant to develop Carbon Capture and Storage technology (CSS).
The Peterhead bid is backed by Shell and Scottish and Southern Electricity (SSE) and is one of only two preferred bids for the funding, the other being the White Rose project in Yorkshire.
A rival for the accolade of world's first CSS plant was abandoned yesterday after a Norwegian project was deemed too costly.
Carbon capture and storage, refers to a set of technologies designed to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from large-point sources such as coal-fired power plants to mitigate greenhouse gas production. CCS technology involves capturing CO2 and then storing the carbon in a reservoir, instead of allowing it to be released into the atmosphere where its accumulation contributes to climate change
Supporters claim that CCS has the ability to revolutionise how the world combats global warming. But even advocates admit that there is a lot of work to be done to prove that the technology can succeed in practice.
The Peterhead project envisages the capture and liquefication of up to 90% of carbon emissions from SSE's gas-fired power plant in Aberdeenshire. Shell will then store the CO2 in the depleted Goldeneye gas reservoir, sited approximately 65 miles off the coast, using existing pipeline infrastructure. It is estimated to be worth 1000 jobs in the North east.
Speaking in March, when Peterhead was confirmed as one of only two preferred bidders, Ed Daniels chairman of Shell UK, said: "At Peterhead, we expect to demonstrate capturing around 90% of the emissions from natural gas, making the cleanest burning fossil fuel even cleaner.
"What we learn from the project will help the industry to be able to scale-up the technology to make a material impact on tackling climate change, and to create a world-leading industry here in the UK, with excellent potential for job creation and long-term growth."
If the Peterhead award goes ahead, it will end years of frustration for the North East port after previous plans to develop Carbon Capture collapsed.
In June 2007, shortly after the SNP won the Holyrood election by one seat, the then Labour chancellor Alistair Darling confirmed that the UK Labour government would not be committing to a carbon storage project at Peterhead.