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Govt carbon capture announcement fails to end Kingsnorth stand-off

The £1.5 billion Kingsnorth rebuild remained some way from going out to tender this week, despite the Government’s announcement on carbon capture and storage schemes

Energy secretary Ed Miliband last week committed to helping fund up to four coal-fired power station carbon capture and storage schemes.

Client E.On had previously said it was waiting for CCS to be given the green light before moving further in its discussions with contractors over the Kingsnorth project.

The energy group welcomed the latest announcement but said it was still being left in the dark on a gamut of issues relating to the Government’s plans.

An E.On spokesman said: “We will be seeking clarity on the funding mechanism to complete the fitting of CCS to the rest of Kingsnorth, the framework for the associated CCS infrastructure and how the Government intends to create a level playing field between new, cleaner coal and existing unabated coal in the UK.”

Power giants must still wait on the forthcoming coal consultation to finish before any designs can even obtain planning approval.

E.On – which has called on the Government to “urgently set out the roadmap” for future energy development – has released a study proposing a national grid-style network connecting major emitters of carbon dioxide in the Thames Estuary to a central pipeline which would trap and store their emissions.

The firm has also started identifying potential routes to connect Kingsnorth to the proposed pipeline system that would carry captured CO2 to the Hewett gas field in the southern North Sea. It refuses, however, to comment on a possible timeline for the power station rebuild.

Laing O’Rourke, Morgan Est, Balfour Beatty, Kier, Bam Nuttall and a Costain/Hochtief joint venture are all in discussions with E.On over the Kingsnorth work, which has been divided into four packages – piling, enabling works, cooling water system civils works and the ‘power island’ (main building).

With the cost of constructing CCS pegged at between £750 million and more than £1 billion, experts say it is unlikely any project not subsidised by the Government would ever get off the ground.