Blow for UK as CCS plant plans shelved

Plans for a carbon capture and storage power plant in the UK have been ditched by the company behind the proposals.

Ayrshire Power wanted to build a multi-fuel power station with CCS facilities at Hunterston in Scotland, but has now announced that it is withdrawing its planning application and pulling out of the current CCS demonstration project funding competitions run by the UK government.

Ayrshire Power said it has taken the decision “due to the level of uncertainty surrounding the ability to secure the necessary financial investment to build the power station in the foreseeable economic climate”.

Muir Miller, Ayrshire Power’s project director, said: “Whilst we believe we have a strong case to succeed in the planning inquiry, we cannot proceed with the significant risk that the current power station design and fuel mix could not be funded and built in the necessary timetable following the grant of consent.”

However, he said he remained committed to the development of CCS technology: “The opportunity to develop a CCS cluster on the west coast of the UK that could store over one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050 remains an exciting prospect.

“We still believe that new coal-fired power stations fitted with carbon capture and storage will play an important part in plugging the energy gap until alternative sources of low carbon energy can replace fossil fuels.”

Miller added that Hunterston – the site of Scotland’s largest coal terminal – remains “an ideal location for such a power station” but he said “the timing of the economic slowdown and funding uncertainty have not worked in our favour”.

The company was now taking “some time to consider our options and determine under what circumstances we will revisit our proposals”, he explained.

The decision is a further blow to the UK’s CCS ambitions following a similar scrapping of a CCS project at Longannet in Scotland last year, and is another sign of investor uncertainty over the financial mechanisms of the government’s Electricity Market Reform.

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