Plans for an ambitious energy project in Grangemouth moved a step closer.
The proposal by American-based Summit Power has made the shortlist for the government’s £1 billion carbon capture and storage (CCS) competition.
If given the go-ahead, CO2 emissions would be captured and piped to St Fergus in Aberdeenshire and transferred offshore to be stored deep below the surface.
Although the news that the port proposal has made the final four, there are concerns that delays in selecting which bids to support are affecting the ability to meet the country’s low carbon energy needs.
Summit Power has joined up with the National Grid, Petrofac and Siemens to bid for funding to take forward plans for its plant. Also in the running are projects in Peterhead, Teeside and North Yorkshire.
The four have been selected from eight bids received with the successful initiatives due to be announced next year.
Energy Secretary Edward Davey said: “We have received some quality bids from industry who have really risen to the challenge set by the competition.
“The projects we have chosen to take forward have all shown that they have the potential to kick-start the creation of a new CCS industry in the UK, but further discussions are needed to ensure we deliver value-for-money for taxpayers.
“This announcement is an important step towards an exciting new industry, one that could help us reduce our carbon emissions and create thousands of jobs.”
Welcoming the news, Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald urged the UK government to support the local proposal.
He said: “I firmly believe that Grangemouth has an extremely strong case to make. Westminster has a sorry track record when it comes to supporting innovative carbon capture projects in the past, with jobs and investment allowed to slip away before at Longannet and Peterhead.
“The fact that Scottish projects make up half the shortlist for CCS funding clearly reflects the fact that Scotland has the biggest CO2 storage capacity in Europe. Getting this technology right can bring huge investments and many jobs to Falkirk district and beyond, but to get there it is essential that these projects are supported in their early days.”
But Labour has been critical of the time taken to make a decision on the projects.
Shadow Energy Minister Tom Greatrex said: “The UK should be at the cutting edge of developing carbon capture and storage. But yet again Ed Davey has kicked a decision about support for CCS into the long grass, creating more uncertainty for the industry.
“We are now at risk of losing our competitive advantage in developing low carbon technologies, engineering expertise and valuable skills that we could export around the globe.
“Months after they launched the latest competition, ministers have still not said how much money the government will allow for each project and when, or how many of these projects they expect to survive to the end of the process.”
Friends of the Earth Falkirk has previously said it did not support the Grangemouth proposal, instead favouring tidal, wave or wind power as a greener option for renewable energy.