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Carbon storage plan fraught with difficulties

PROFESSOR Stuart Haszeldine's enthusiasm for storing carbon dioxide under the North Sea (“North Sea assets can offer means to achieve climate change targets”, Agenda, The Herald, May 16) leads him to overlook at least two problems which must be overcome before this would be possible.

The first and most difficult task in carbon capture and storage is capture. No economic large-scale process yet exists to do this. The prospects for any process for retrofitting to coal fired power stations are particularly unpromising.

Secondly there is the problem of collection and transportation.

Every tonne of methane burned produces 2.75 tonnes of carbon dioxide and their densities differ by this same factor. This would make transport by pipeline more expensive.

Neither liquefied natural gas (LNG) nor liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tankers would be suitable for its shipping. There is certainly no existing infrastructure which could readily collect CO2 throughout Europe and take it to Scotland.

The production of hydrogen from methane is by no means “low cost” when account is taken of all losses.

Because of its very different physical properties it is by no means clear that the existing gas network would be suitable for large-scale distribution of hydrogen. As a domestic fuel its very wide explosive limits and easy ignition would raise safety concerns.

Prof Jack Ponton,

Scientific Alliance Scotland,

7-9 North St David Street, Edinburgh.