Lynemouth power station leads the way

PRIME Minister Gordon Brown has been invited to Lynemouth's coal-fired power station to see first hand carbon capture technology.

Speaking at Prime Minister's question time in the House of Commons this week, Wansbeck MP Denis Murphy said Rio Tinto Alcan was leading the world in carbon capture and storage technology.

"The method that it has developed will protect both the environment and valuable local jobs," Mr Murphy told the Prime Minister.

"It is also a world first."

Brown responded positively to Mr Murphy's request and pledged to visit the facility, which has provided power to Lynemouth's smelting plant for 30 years.

The Prime Minister told the Commons: "Yes, I shall be happy to visit to see the progress that is being made in carbon capture and storage in clean coal.

"That is an area where we can lead the world.

"I look forward to meeting the company and talking about how we can expand the technology."

Rio Tinto would hopes to install "pre-combustion" type of carbon capture technology.

This involves treating the coal before it is burnt to lower the amount of CO2 emitted during its combustion. Any leftover CO2 is then captured and pumped into an aquifer in the North Sea.

A spokesman for Rio Tinto Alcan said: "We accept that we have to respond to the increasing pressure on the manufacturing industry to further improve environmental performance.

"We believe the site will be ideal for clean coal technology because we already have the expertise there and it's well positioned for carbon capture and storage.

"But we need to determine the potential for carbon capture storage on site.

"It's a very expensive technology and in the current economic climate we can't commit to making such an investment.

"It's a very big investment, altogether we're talking in the region of many millions of pounds, potentially up to 1bn.

"We're very grateful for Denis Murphy's interest and support for the project.

"Of course, we're grateful for the Prime Minister's response, and we would welcome him to look at the work we're doing.

"Not just to look at our environmental improvements but all aspects of our business and our efforts to build a world class manufacturing facility."