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UK’s Powerfuel to build 10 MW demonstration unit of ‘near carbon-free’ gas fired plant

The first near carbon-free gas fired power plant in the UK is set to begin operating within a year in response to government efforts to stimulate carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

The Financial Times reports the pilot plant is to be jointly built by Powerfuel, a mining and power company, and Calix, an Australian cement maker that has pioneered a method of removing carbon dioxide from gas before it enters power station turbines.

Calix and Powerfuel have set up a joint venture to build the works next to the latter’s Hatfield colliery near Doncaster, where it is also building a 900 MW coal fired power plant equipped with CCS with public subsidy.

The 10 MW demonstration plant will help the companies bid for UK and European Union funds. Its Endex reactor will capture 90 per cent of the carbon dioxide in fuel gas.
Adam Dawson, chief executive of the government’s Office of Carbon Capture and Storage, said it had earmarked GBP1bn ($1.56bn) for CCS demonstration projects in spite of cuts elsewhere. It had also changed the rules recently to allow gas fired projects to bid for funds.

Dawson praised plans in Yorkshire for a pipeline network to take carbon captured from power stations, refineries and steelworks into depleted gasfields in the North Sea.

Brian Sweeney, of Calix, said part of the decarbonization process was already being used in making dolomitic cement, which is more robust than common portland cement, but it would be perfected in the UK.

“We are coming to Europe because that is where the market is,” he said. It aims to sell its reactor in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Poland.  Michael Gibbons, director of Powerfuel Power, said the plant was a “world leading project”.
Powerfuel, run by Richard Budge, the mining entrepreneur, is to receive EUR180m ($235m) of EU money to build a demonstration plant at its new coal fired power station next to its Hatfield colliery.
The GBP2.4bn plant will require more funding if it is to be built by 2015. However, Gibbons said the design plans had been drawn up and contracts were in place, including one with National Grid to pipe away the captured carbon.
“The biggest market failure in history is in front of us. How do you reward capturing carbon when it costs more than not doing it?” He added a carbon price of at least GBP20 a tonne would be necessary to make it commercially viable.