The government needs to step in with public money following the decision by the Drax power company to withdraw from the carbon capture and storage (CCS) system at its North Yorkshire complex, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Friday 25 September).
Unite national officer for energy Kevin Coyne said: “This is a disaster. The technology is proven and already in use in Canada and Sweden. It could have been a blueprint for similar projects elsewhere in the UK.
“Ministers need to step up to the plate with public investment to ensure that the £1bn White Rose carbon capture project comes to fruition, otherwise the massive coal reserves that the UK is sitting on will remain untapped.
“The Drax complex is the biggest energy producer in the UK – and the second largest in Europe. Coal-fired power stations will be phased out by 2021 – six such closures have been announced so far this year. The energy supply prospects for the UK look bleak.
“Amber Rudd needs to get a grip, as five months into the job as energy secretary the strategy to keep the lights on in the decades ahead appears to be rudderless.
“The underlying message here is that the private sector has been unable to provide the necessary investment to support the carbon capture initiative – this should be a salutary lesson. Private sector money is not necessarily the panacea for big nationally important schemes.
“This has not been helped by the government’s decision to reduce subsidies for renewable energy, which has not created a climate of confidence for private sector investment.
“Today’s announcement calls into question the long-term viability of chancellor George Osborne’s much vaunted ‘Northern powerhouse’.
“The government’s green agenda appears to be in tatters and we have moved a long way from when David Cameron was hugging a huskie and boasted that his government would be the greenest ever.”
Carbon capture and storage has the potential to allow energy companies to keep burning fossil fuels while reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by up to 90 per cent.
Unite said that the recently announced closures of the coal-fired Eggborough and Ferrybridge C power stations will see a reduction in their contribution to the grid by about eight per cent, enough to power about four million homes.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2061 or 07768 693940.
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.