UK carbon capture competition needs mix - B9 Coal

LONDON Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:34am BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's search for large scale clean coal power demonstration projects should embrace new technologies to allow smaller, more innovative players to enter, the head of UK clean energy company B9 Coal told Reuters.

With consortium partners, B9 Coal plans to enter the new round of the government's carbon capture and storage (CCS) competition. The B9 Coal project extracts hydrogen from coal to feed into fuel cells to convert into electricity, with the carbon removed at the hydrogen extraction stage.

"We feel it needs to be more inclusive of emerging technologies, which we have been relaying back to DECC (the Department of Energy and Climate Change). It needs to be open to small players as well as large power companies," B9 Coal director Alisa Murphy said.

"The UK government has stated quite clearly that they want to show global leadership on CCS and we really feel that in order to do that, you have to have a world leading template project that has to have something different."

The British government said that it was looking for three more CCS projects in addition to the first demonstration competition which E.ON's (EONGn.DE) Kingsnorth and Ibedrola (IBE.MC) owned Scottish Power's Longannet plants are still battling over.

Both Kingsnorth and Longannet are post-combustion -- capturing the carbon after burning -- while the B9 Coal project would be pre-combustion.

B9 Coal's competition entry would involve underground coal gasification (UCG) to produce syngas, which would then be separated into hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The hydrogen would be use to generate power while the climate warming carbon could be transported away to be buried.

The B9 Coal consortium has selected Rio Tinto Alcan's (RIO.L) 500 megawatt Lynemouth coal-fired plant in north-east England for the site of its pre-combustion CCS project.

"I think we shouldn't just band aid old dirty technologies and come forward with new emerging technologies that are built for the future," Murphy said.

Along with its partners in the project UK engineering consultancy WSP Group, UK fuel cell maker AFC Energy, and an Australian UCG firm Linc Energy LNC.AX, B9 Coal said the project could remove 90 percent of the carbon while retaining 60 percent electricity output efficiency.

The cost of power production would be as low as four pence per kilowatt hour, which Murphy said would make it competitive with nuclear power.

CCS is seen a key technology to help Britain reach its legally binding targets to cut carbon emissions of at least 80 percent by 2050 compared with 1990 levels, as well as a creating green jobs for UK manufacturing.

(Editing by William Hardy)

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