UK Government Proposes £40 Million Carbon Abatement, H2 R&D Package
LONDON - Billed as a runup to the early-July G8 Summit in Scotland where global warming issues are scheduled to be center stage, the British government last month announced a £40 million (about $73 million) funding package spread over several years for carbon abatement and hydrogen technologies.
As outlined by the UKs energy minister Malcolm Wicks in mid-June, the carbon abatement technology (CAT) package of £25 million ($45.8 million) is expected to include projects to demonstrate carbon dioxide storage in depleted North Sea oil and gas fields, possibly by 2015. Other technologies to be funded under the plan include raising efficiencies and co-firing existing power plants with low-carbon alternatives such as biomass.
Establish National Hydrogen Coordination Unit
The Hydrogen Strategy component of Pound Sterling £ 15 million ($27.5 million) will include demonstration programs for hydrogen and fuel cells as well as the establishment of a Hydrogen Coordination Unit.
In his announcement, Wicks said reaching our ambitious target of cutting carbon emissions by 60% by 2050 means action now to support emerging technologies that will enable us to burn coal and gas more cleanly. At the same time, with major expansion of coal-fired power generation expected in China and India, we want to put the UK at the forefront of what could be a valuable new export opportunity......Its clear that the long-term benefits of capture and storage, which could reduce emissions from power plants by up to 85%, merit significant investment now.
The announcement, released by the governments Trade and Industry Department (DTI), said previously disparate efforts on hydrogen and fuel cells R&D will be brought together for the first time within an overall strategy. It will help to ensure that the UKs participation in international activities such as the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy is fully effective and benefits both the UK and our international partners.
The funding proposals are subject to the design of appropriate schemes and securing of EC (European Community) State Aid Approval, according to the release. DTI said it expects to be able to invite calls for proposals towards the end of this year, with funding to be spread over the following 3-4 years.
Response to Consultants Recommendations
The hydrogen plan represents the governments generally positive response to a set of seven recommendations prepared by three British consultant firms, E4Tech, Element Energy and Eoin Lees Energy, and submitted last December, but not released at the time by DTI which had requested them about six months earlier.
Adam Chase, a director at E4Tech, of London and Lausanne, Switzerland, was quoted in the release as saying that hydrogen could provide competitive low carbon energy for transport from a range of secure energy sources. No other energy carrier offers all of these benefits. Although the technical and economic challenges are significant, hydrogens long-term potential is so great that the UK should put itself on a path to reap these benefits. Singling out the creation of the hydrogen coordination unit and more support for R&D and large-scale demonstration projects, Chase said these represent important ways to ensure that this is achieved.
Earlier, Chases consultancy had been hired by German industrial gas supplier Linde AG in developing the concept of a 1,100 mile European Hydrogen Highway (H&FCL March 05).
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who assumed the G8 presidency this year, has chosen climate change and the problems of Africa as focus for the meeting July 6-8 of the eight heads of state (France, UK, Italy, US, Germany, Japan, Canada and Russia) at the Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland.
But critics are already charging that the G8 climate change agenda is being undermined at the insistence of the U.S. government. Britains Independent newspaper said in a June 17 story, The plan for action to tackle climate change for the G8 summit next month has been drastically watered down following Tony Blairs visit to Washington, according to a leaked draft.
Similarly, the online Environmental News Service (ENS) reported the same day, the environmental group Friends of the Earth has reacted with anger at the content of a draft communique on climate change dated June 14, which appeared to be even weaker than an earlier May 2 leaked draft which itself had no specific targets or timetables. The latest draft worryingly even calls into question scientists warnings that global climate change is already under way, the story quoted Friends of the Earth.
Contact/Sources: DTIs report A Strategy for Developing Carbon Abatement Technologies for Fossil Fuel Use will be available on the DTI energy website www.dti.gov.uk/energy. The hydrogen recommendations are at www.dti.gov.uk/energy/sepn/hydrogen.shtml