Thursday, October 27, 2011

Salmond fails on carbon capture at #fmq

The SNP will do anything to take a knock at the UK Government. It's all part of their plan to persuade the people that anything that involves Westminster is the Spawn of Satan.

First Minister's Questions is, these days, not so much an opportunity to scrutinise the Government, but more a place for craven SNP backbenchers to do homage to their Mighty Leader.

And so it was when Bill Walker, who was pretty surprised to be elected MSP for Dunfermline in May, rose to his feet to ask about Carbon Capture. You could tell his question had been written by the Whips because he clearly didn't understand it himself, tripping over any word longer than 3 syllables. Not for the first time, I wanted Jim Tolson back there.

The First Minister wasted no time in slating the Westminster Government and the Liberal Democrats in particular for withdrawing the funding for carbon capture. Err, no, they haven't.  The money is still there. It was just going to be way too expensive to develop at Longannet. It's difficult to make it work in a coal plant and the idea that you can somehow make coal cleaner is not an easy one to make a reality.

The idea is, however, much more likely to succeed at a gas plant and the money available for CCS is likely to stay in Scotland, at Peterhead. And, even better, 75% of the work done at Longannet can be transferred.

But of course the First Minister didn't mention any of this. Yet again, the facts get in the way of his union bashing agenda.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's fairly reasonable for the SNP to bash all the Westminster parties on CCS given the last government crashed the previous Peterhead project through inertia four years ago, and the 3 year prolonged 'competition' that followed has produced no winner, and collapsed for exactly the same reason.

In each case the issue has been the reasonable unwillingness of the government to pay the vast cost-premium of attempting to lead the world in demonstrating this technology, coupled with the reasonable unwillingness of business to incur vast losses purely to satisfy a political objective to lead the world in this technology. Particularly when the most likely outcome will be China ripping off the technology and doing it themselves, rather than some massive payback through exporting expertise or kit. Filters, pipes and plugs are not radical innovation.

CCS is a nice idea, essential even if you believe the government's CO2 targets and dates matter, but what it isn't is a viable business proposition or clever green growth wheeze. It will produce few jobs and is an expensive way of mitigating CO2. Whilst 'cleaning' coal and gas, it also increases the amount you need to burn to produce the same energy.

The UK government then should either be consistent between their rhetoric and willingness to commit meaningful cash to such projects or shut up and focus on cheaper technologies where the UK has a passing chance of securing comparative advantage.

Acting the blowhard and then delivering fuck all is perhaps the stupidest strategy, and one that leaves a wide open goal for Scotland's own favourite blowhard to shoot easy goals.


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