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LONDON, July 8 British utility Drax has
won 300 million euros ($409 million) in EU funding to develop
technology to bury carbon emissions from a new coal-fired power
plant, the European Commission said on Tuesday.
Drax's White Rose project will receive the cash under an EU
scheme to fund renewable energy and other initiatives to help
cut greenhouse gas emissions, potentially making it Europe's
first commercial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS)
Drax wants to use the funds to build a 450-megawatt
coal-fired plant next to its existing power station in Selby,
North Yorkshire, which is the largest single source of CO2
emissions in Britain.
The new plant would be capable of powering 630,000 British
homes, with some 1.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions
from the facility being captured and pumped annually into a
depleted gas field in the North Sea.
"White Rose will create thousands of green, local jobs and
make a real difference to cutting carbon emissions," British
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said in a
"And as a world leader in the technology, as carbon capture
and storage is commercialised Britain will be in first place to
export this knowledge to a decarbonising global economy."
EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said the
28-nation bloc would award a total 1 billion euros to 19
projects in 12 member states, including a geothermal power plant
in Croatia and a concentrated solar power project in Cyprus.
"With these first-of-a-kind projects, we will help protect
the climate and make Europe less energy dependent," Hedegaard
told reporters in Brussels, adding that the 1 billion euros
would leverage additional investment from the private sector of
900 million euros.
"This is a contribution to reducing Europe's energy bill of
more than 1 billion euros per day that we pay for our imported
fossil fuels," she added.
Funds for the so-called NER300 programme were raised through
the sale of 300 million carbon allowances under the EU's
Emissions Trading System between 2011 and 2014 - a reserve of
permits that had been set aside for new entrants in the scheme.
The Commission, the EU's executive arm, raised more than 2
billion euros, with around 1 billion euros of that going to 20
renewable energy projects since late 2012.
No CCS plants received cash during the first round of NER300
funding because they all withdrew from the competition due to a
lack of government support.
Drax won cash in the second round after Britain last
December announced 1 billion pounds in support for CCS projects.
"(Tuesday's) decision sends a strong and positive signal,
reaffirming the importance of CCS deployment and that we must
keep pushing European projects with the continued support both
at EU and member state level," said Graeme Sweeney, chairman of
Zero Emissions Platform (ZEP).
Brussels-based ZEP is a coalition of European utilities, oil
companies, scientists, academics and environmental campaigners
working together to advance CCS technology.
While some have called CCS a "silver bullet" in the fight
against climate change, others say it is costly, has significant
risks, and has not yet been proven on a large scale.
The Commission said Drax's CCS project, which is expected to
capture 90 percent of the new plant's emissions, will reduce
greenhouse gases by an amount equivalent to taking more than a
million cars off the road.
It added that the 19 projects selected in the latest round
of NER300 funding could raise EU renewable energy production by
around 8,000 gigawatt-hours, equal to the combined annual
electricity consumption of Cyprus and Malta.
($1 = 0.7331 Euros)
(Reporting by Michael Szabo; Editing by Jason Neely and Dale