Under the somewhat unlikely title of “Government reaffirms commitment to CCS”, the Department of Energy and Climate Change finally had to admit in their press release that they’re stopping funding for the Longannet Carbon Capture pilot project. Reading between the lines, what is clear is that the £1 billion set aside for CCS at Longannet was no where near enough or that they didn’t even have it in the first place, that the technology for achieving CCS is far from being a reality, and that government policy both at Westminster and Hollyrood has now been shown up for the greenwash that we always said it was.
Longannet was meant to be the light at the end of the tunnel – bringing salvation for the planet by reducing our carbon emissions, salvation for the fossil fuel industry as with CCS they could continue burning it up as usual, and of course the promise of thousands of jobs and millions in investment to Scotland’s economy. All hopes were pinned on this one project. But it quickly became clear that way more money was needed, and all the project showed was that you end up creating more CO2 emissions because of the extra energy you need to generate to power the carbon capture.
So this now leaves ScottishPower, Shell, National Grid and of course Alex Salmond all very red in the face (yes corporations have faces too). Alex Salmond has “attacked” the Westminster CCS decision, saying that carbon capture and storage could be “planet-saving technology”, adding that the Westminster Government had “turned its back on that world-leading technology” at the SNP’s annual conference in Inverness yesterday. He certainly puts on a good show when it comes to acting indignant, but Mr Salmond is very much a part of the problem and completely complicit in maintaining the status quo that means our planet needs saving from people like him, ScottishPower, Shell, National Grid, etc. We could, however, keep having a go at Salmond and the SNP over energy policy until we’re blue in the face, so lets turn to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Chris Huhne, Westminster energy secretary, said that there were “specific” technical problems with Longannet which meant the scheme could not be made to “stack up” and would have required much more money, and “If there was a completely unlimited resource then we may have been able to surmount the technical problems at Longannet.”
This all seems very cryptic. What he actually means is that the technology doesn’t exist, but that maybe if we had all the resources in the world (presumably money) it might work. Seems like a very sensible thing to base all of your carbon emission reduction strategies on really. Nice one.
While we’re having a go at people wasting time when they could be actually tackling climate change, “WWF Scotland said that scrapping the scheme meant four years had been wasted in the battle to tackle climate change” (BBC News). We’ve always been critical of WWF’s stance on Longannet and CCS, but its probably more likely that WWF have wasted four years in the battle to tackle climate change by being apologists for ScottishPower and the SNP’s greenwash.
So, Longannet was the last option in a CCS pilot project in the UK, and if its not viable to capture CO2 under the North Sea, then where could it be viable? It looks like CCS is dead, but what fantastical technofixes will our ruling elite dream up next?