Tayside and Central Scotland

Energy giants' plan for new Scots onshore CO2 pipeline

Longannet power station
Image caption The plan would see two million tonnes of CO2 a year pumped from Longannet

Plans to create an onshore pipeline carrying up to two million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) have been proposed by three of the UK's energy giants.

Scottish Power, National Grid and Shell UK want to use an existing natural gas line - running from Falkirk to Peterhead - for the project.

It is part of a carbon capture scheme to pump emissions from Longannet power station in Fife to the North Sea.

Residents living within 500m of the pipeline have been told of the plans.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a process involving the capture of CO2 from power plants and other industrial sources for storage in sites such as depleted oil and gas fields.

'Gaseous phase'

Under the plans, 260km of pipe would carry the CO2 through six areas - Fife, Falkirk, Stirling, Perth and Kinross, Angus and Aberdeenshire, in the first project of its kind for the UK.

Longannet power station, the UK's second largest coal-fired power station and Europe's third largest, is among the biggest polluters in the country.

It produces energy for two million people and emits between seven million and eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

The energy firms said they could clean up the facility, increasing its life in the process, and cut carbon emissions by diverting up to two million tonnes of CO2 a year.

A spokesman for National Grid said: "We provide the expertise in the transportation of carbon dioxide gas through a combination of new and existing pipelines.

"The existing 280km pipeline will require a change of use from natural gas to transport carbon dioxide instead.

"Work will begin on the new pipeline in 2014, with the overall aim to deliver a full chain post-combustion CCS scheme in 2015."

The project is also in the running to benefit from a £1bn government subsidy. The money will help with the costs of the pipeline and its transition to permanent storage in the North Sea.

In a "proposal of application notice" sent to Falkirk Council, the companies said the CO2 would be collected from the flue at Longannet and transported in "gaseous phase" to a compressor facility at Blackhill, next to the St Fergus gas terminal in Aberdeenshire.

They intend to build a new pipeline between Longannet and Dunipace, near Falkirk, where it will connect with the current natural gas (methane) pipeline.

Design stage

The companies said the existing pipeline was not thought "to require any re-routing or modifications to enable the transportation of CO2".

Once in Aberdeenshire, the CO2 will be compressed and pumped to the Goldeneye Platform in the North Sea, where it will be stored permanently.

The companies hope to have a demonstration system up and running by 2015.

The Health and Safety Executive is currently considering the risks of such a pipeline.

Trevor Sexty, a spokesman for the hazardous installations directorate of HSE said: "The HSE and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) have assessed early stage health, safety and environmental submissions prepared by the Scottish Power Consortium.

"The project is still in the design stage and HSE and Sepa will continue to monitor developments as they progress."

A series of public information days have been staged by National Grid to offer more information about the project, with the last event due to take place in Dunipace on 17 June.

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