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Major Breakthrough for ScottishPower Carbon Capture Prototype at Longannet


09ScottishPower has announced that successful testing at the prototype carbon capture unit at Longannet Power Station, which has been in operation since May, has resulted in a major breakthrough in reducing the amount of energy required to separate carbon emissions from a coal-fired power plant. Scientists and engineers working for ScottishPower and Aker Clean Carbon have been able to demonstrate reduction in the energy requirement in the improved capture process by about a third from a reference plant.

Technicians have been monitoring the effectiveness of the amine plant that captures the CO2 under a range of operating conditions. One of the major challenges with carbon capture processes has been the energy requirement. The focus for the tests at Longannet has been to reduce this load to a minimum via a combination of process improvements and low energy solvents. The improved process has been successfully verified in the pilot plant, with the energy required being reduced by approximately a third. Testing at Longannet will continue until February and scientists believe this technology is ready to be applied successfully at full scale demonstration.  

Reducing the energy required in capturing CO2 is seen as a critical step in reducing the overall costs of Carbon Capture and Storage, bringing the reality of a successful commercial scale project one step closer.  

Discussing the results at The Carbon Capture and Storage Forum in London today (Wednesday 25th November), ScottishPower Chief Executive Nick Horler, said: “The testing at Longannet has resulted in a significant reduction in the amount of energy required to capture CO2, a reduction of about a third on what was previously thought to be achievable.

“What this means in real terms is that we’re not just reducing energy, but also reducing the cost. And that is key to the future of CCS, being able to capture CO2 effectively and efficiently without it being cost prohibitive to ourselves or consumers.

“I’m not claiming we’re there yet – but the journey is well underway. In the next few months as our scientists and engineers work with new amine solutions we are confident that we will cross more barriers, achieve more breakthroughs and deliver even better results.”

The prototype carbon capture unit is the first of its kind to be demonstrated on a working coal-fired power station in the UK, and has been successfully operating for over 2000 hours. The unit is monitored 24 hours a day and has been capturing around 90% of the carbon content from 1000 cubic metres an hour of exhaust gas at Longannet.

It is an integrated part of the SOLVit research and development programme. The main focus of the programme is to develop more efficient solvents that require less energy and are more robust in coal operation.

All members in the ScottishPower Consortium have gained crucial experience and knowledge from the tests at Longannet. The test unit has also hosted visits from power firms and other interested parties from China, the United States, Australia and a number of countries across Europe.

Notes to Editors:

  • ScottishPower is one of the two remaining participants in the UK Government’s competition to develop a commercial scale Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project.
  • To enable CCS to be delivered quickly it has formed a consortium with Aker Clean Carbon, Shell and National Grid.
  • The competition was launched in late 2007 to encourage energy companies to develop commercially viable CCS schemes. There were originally nine entrants.
  • The prototype carbon capture unit weighs 30 tonnes and covers an area of 85m2. It has been processing 1000 cubic metres of exhaust gas per hour from Longannet.
  • The technology used in the prototype unit is exactly the same as would be used in a commercial scale unit. A full-scale demonstration project capturing up to 90% of CO2 from Longannet would be equivalent to taking one million cars off the road. 

Media Information: Simon McMillan 0141 566 4875 / 07753 622 257