From FGD to CCS

Peter Brown finds out what lessons carbon capture and storage can learn from the rollout of flue-gas desulphurisation technology

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Launching phase two of the government’s plans to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey referred to the precedent set by flue-gas desulphurisation (FGD). So what, if anything, can CCS developers learn from the development and rollout of FGD?

Like CCS, FGD is an emissions abatement technology with clear environmental benefits and similar applications in that both can be deployed in power stations and other industrial plants. The FGD process removes toxic pollutant sulphur dioxide (SO2) from the flue gases emitted by coal-fired power plants and other industrial facilities. It was developed in the early 20th century after concerns about the health and environmental impact of SO2 emissions and what came to be known as acid rain. It was pioneered in the UK and the world’s first full-scale commercial FGD unit began operating at Battersea A power station in 1933.

Yet it took nearly 80 years for the FGD technology piloted at the south London site to be fitted to a majority of the UK’s coal-fired power stations. As Davey acknowledges in Next steps in CCS: policy scoping, which was published in August 2014, the government cannot afford to wait ...

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