Page last updated at 15:53 GMT, Friday, 6 June 2008 16:53 UK

Plan to trap CO2 under North Sea

File image of a smoke stack emitting fumes
The region is home to some of the country's largest power plants

Millions of tonnes of industrial carbon emissions could be stored under the North Sea, a major study has proposed.

Liquefied carbon dioxide would be pumped into depleted gas fields where impervious rock would stop it escaping.

Regional development agency Yorkshire Forward, which is behind the 2bn plan, said it would take 20 years to develop, but would create hundreds of jobs.

"The region has a unique opportunity to become a global leader in tackling climate change," a spokesman said.

Some of the UK's largest energy and industrial companies, including Corus, Scottish and Southern Energy, Powerfuel Power Ltd , BP, ConocoPhillips, E.ON , Drax Power and AMEC, helped produce the study.

It proposes setting up a carbon capture and storage network which would connect major producers of carbon emissions in the region and remove their CO2 emissions via a pipeline leading to the seabed.

This unique regional initiative... shows others that it is possible to make cleaner energy a reality
Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary

Mike Smith, head of sustainable development at Yorkshire Forward, said: "Yorkshire and Humber produces a huge amount of carbon emissions each year, largely from the energy-intensive industry that helps keeps the lights on all over the country.

"We can't stop using fossil fuels altogether, but what we can look to do is develop the assets that already exist and new infrastructure to bury carbon dioxide deep under the sea where it can't escape into the atmosphere."

If current levels of industrial use of fossil fuels continue, he estimated that up to 320m tonnes of carbon dioxide could be stored by 2030 and 1,500m tonnes by 2050.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "This unique regional initiative is a high priority for the TUC's clean coal task group and shows others that it is possible to make cleaner energy a reality.

"Capturing the region's carbon emissions on this scale will make a major contribution to the UK's target of reducing its carbon footprint by one-third by 2020.

"The huge investment needed in the new cleaner energy technology will create hundreds of new jobs in the region and the CO2 pipeline will help secure jobs - especially in local steel and power plants.

"The local economy will also benefit from inward investment as companies from across the UK come to see the North Sea beds off the Yorkshire coastline as the place where industrial CO2 can be safely captured and stored."


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