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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 March 2006, 14:48 GMT
Peterhead power set to clean up
By Ken Banks
BBC Scotland news website
North East Scotland reporter

Peterhead power station
The new project would be based next to Peterhead power station
The Scottish coastal town of Peterhead is probably best known for its reliance on the fishing industry.

However a groundbreaking new 'clean' power station is now set to land on its shores.

And the plan has won praise from energy experts, environmental campaigners and politicians alike for pointing the way forward.

The proposal would be the world's first industrial-scale hydrogen power scheme, based in the Aberdeenshire town.

It would generate 'carbon-free' electricity from hydrogen, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) and safely storing it.

'Most important'

Energy giants BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) have teamed up to investigate the feasibility of the 330m carbon capture and storage (CCS) scheme.

The engineering and design costs are being drawn up and the go-ahead could be given by the end of this year.

If that is the case, the project team predicts the energy plant could start operating by the end of 2009.

The hydrogen would fuel a new power station to be built near the existing power station at Peterhead.

Alex Salmond
It's of earth-shattering importance
Alex Salmond
SNP leader

The CO2 would then be liquefied and piped underground for storage in BP's Miller oil field where it would also help to recover more oil.

SNP leader Alex Salmond, the local Banff and Buchan MP, said he had "championed" the idea for more than a decade.

Mr Salmond told BBC Scotland: "It's the most important European energy project in the last decade.

"It's of earth-shattering importance and everyone in the world will want to see it.

"The economic and environmental benefits stack up, the project is expected to create up to 1,000 construction jobs with around 100 full time posts.

"We have energy coming out of our ears in Peterhead."

'Avert chaos'

Shiona Baird, the Green Party MSP for North East Scotland and the party's spokesperson on energy, said: "The Peterhead project is undoubtedly preferable to burning the gas without carbon capture."

However she said: "Of course our top priority must be to focus on developing renewable energy which is, when coupled with energy efficiency, the only long term solution to reduce climate change gases.

"Fossil fuels remain finite, so even if the carbon is captured and stored it is an unsustainable technology in the long term."

Friends of the Earth Scotland Chief Executive Duncan McLaren said: "It is important for Scotland that such prospects are explored.

"Carbon capture and storage is one of the critical bridging technologies needed if the world is to put climate changing emissions into an irreversible decline with the next 15 years - which we must do if we are to avert climate chaos."

He also sounded a note of caution, saying: "CCS is no substitute for the aggressive development of renewable energy and energy conservation needed to secure a long term sustainable energy future."

A BP spokesperson told BBC Scotland that project engineers were still working on design and costs, and more news was expected by the end of 2006.


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