E.ON Pulls Plug on Kingsnorth CCS Project in the UK

E.ON last week shelved plans to build its controversial Kingsnorth coal-fired plant in Kent, and it withdrew from the UK’s government competition to build the first of four planned large-scale pilot power plants to demonstrate carbon capture and storage (CCS). The company said the project could not meet “competition timescales.”

The Kingsnorth project was one of two projects shortlisted as part of the government’s competition—ScottishPower, which has proposed to build a CCS pilot at its existing Longannet plant in Fife, Scotland, was also in the running. Though an existing power plant exists at the Kingsnorth site, E.ON had planned to build a new supercritical plant. The existing Kingsnorth unit is due to close by the end of 2015 at the latest under the European Union’s Large Combustion Plant Directive.

“With the market still not conducive to building the 1,600-MW supercritical power station, it had become clear that Kingsnorth could not meet the project timetable,” E.ON said in a statement.

E.ON had already asked Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Foster Wheeler to support front-end engineering design (FEED) for the post-combustion capture plant. The project would have used MHI’s KM-CDR Process, a CO2 recovery technology, to separate, recover, and compress CO2 from the coal-fired flue gas and store it within a depleted gas reservoir in the North Sea.

But, as E.ON UK’s CEO Paul Golby noted, “Having postponed Kingsnorth last year, it has become clear that the economic conditions are still not right for us to progress the project and so, simply put, we have no power station on which to build a CCS demonstration.”

The company said that it still believed that CCS was a “vital technology.” As well as continuing the FEED study at Kingsnorth “to gather valuable information on CCS,” the company said it would concentrate efforts on its Maasvlakte project in the Netherlands.

E.ON is working with Electrabel, Gdf Suez and the Rotterdam Climate Initiative to conduct a joint CCS feasibility study there, seeking to fit a 250-MW CCS unit on a new power station currently under construction. “We believe the lessons from that project can be brought back to the UK for future generation CCS projects,” E.ON said.

ScottishPower confirmed that the consortium building the pilot, which includes Norwegian technology firm Aker Clean Carbon, was on schedule with front-end engineering and design work on the project.

E.ON’s announcement came as the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) pledged up to £1 billion in public funds to support the project that won the first competition. The award will be made in the second half of next year, when the DECC will settle commercial terms with ScottishPower.

It is uncertain whether ScottishPower will agree to all the government’s terms, however. Meanwhile, the DECC said it would remain committed in its support of three future CCS demonstration competitions.

Sources: E.ON, ScottishPower, POWERnews

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