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The UK’s CO2 Dilemma: Suffer Economic Hardship or Sequester Emissions Under The North Sea
In recent months, there has been concern that due to the world’s global financial problems, certain countries have taken their eyes off the environmental ball. Chief amongst them is the United Kingdom. With the country’s numerous coal-driven power stations, they are one of the largest polluters in Europe. And while there have been many plans to solve this, one that is gaining more and more momentum is Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) – specifically under the North Sea.
Speaking to the BBC, CO2 Sense, a not-for-profit company which works to support clean energy projects in the UK, says radical measures need to be taken to stop CO2 from continuing to flood our atmosphere. It is a problem that is even more damaging in Yorkshire where numerous power plants and refineries account for 10% of the country’s CO2 output (60 million tonnes of CO2).
However, with so many jobs dependent on these various industries, the UK is stuck between a financial rock and an environmental hard place. But Dr. Stephen Brown, director of carbon capture and storage at CO2 Sense, believes the region creates a potential opportunity.
He believes that with so many CO2 producing industries in one place, a plan to capture the greenhouse gas and bury it far out under the North Sea is feasible. It is also crucial as the UK’s renewable energy plans have fallen far behind schedule.
While there are plans to completely de-carbonize electricity generation, they are not expected to be implemented till 2050. Until then, gas and coal plants are going to be needed and CCS may be a necessary solution.
With plans to build a new coal plant above the Hatfield coal mine, private equity backed 2Co wants and pump the gas to North Sea oil fields where it can be used for enhanced oil recovery. Unfortunately what seems like a decent plan has environmental consequences – the more CO2 you push in, the more oil you can get out. This wouldn’t exactly rush UK plans to switch to greener alternatives.
All the proposals envisage a giant pipe starting with a coal plant that would collect carbon dioxide and transport it to beneath the sea bed. The project would be led by the National Grid, who would also ensure that high carbon industries pay for any “so called carbon leakage”.
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