THE region could be set for a 1,250 jobs boost if a bold bid to construct a centre for green energy technology is approved by the Government.
Climate change minister Ed Davey yesterday confirmed that Teesside Low Carbon had reached the shortlist of four schemes bidding for a £1bn funding pot.
As part of a competitive process, the consortium formed by BOC, GDF Suez, Premier Oil and Progressive Energy, submitted proposals for a carbon capture and storage (CCS) project, which will be based on the Wilton International chemical complex.
It will involve the development of a syngas plant to convert coal to carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen. The hydrogen will be used to generate electricity while the CO2 will be captured and transported for storage under the North Sea.
It is expected that about 250 direct jobs will be created in what could ultimately be a £2bn project, and 1,000 construction workers will be involved over a four-year period.
Supporters believe that having this infrastructure in place would give the region a distinct advantage in attracting investment in heavy industries such as chemicals, steel making and manufacturing.
The team behind the project says it could provide electricity for about half-a-million homes and will develop a carbon capture infrastructure for big industrial emitters of CO2, such as the GrowHow fertiliser plant at Billingham, north of the River Tees.
The White Rose Project on the Drax site in Selby, North Yorkshire, and two bids from Scotland were also shortlisted.
The projects are being invited to take part in intensive negotiations with the Government before decisions on which projects to support further are taken in the new year.
The Tees Valley scheme is also in line for a funding award under the EU NER300 programme as the Department of Energy and Climate Change has also announced that, subject to success in the UK competition, it will support the project as one of its nominated schemes.
Peter Whitton, managing director of Progressive Energy, the company which pioneered the project, said: “CCS underpins economic growth by providing energy security, creating jobs and economic prosperity, while tackling climate change. We are delighted that the Government has recognised the massive potential that our project can deliver for Teesside and the wider North of England.
“About 28,000 jobs are associated with the chemical industry on Teesside and the CO2 capture infrastructure created by this project will provide a way, in some cases the only way, for these companies to decarbonise their operations, avoiding the increasing cost of carbon emissions which could threaten their continued viability.”
The International Energy Agency states that CCS could reduce global CO2 emissions by 19 per cent and that fighting climate change could cost 70 per cent more without CCS.
Critics of the technology say it is unproven and too costly to develop.
Tom Greatrex, Shadow Energy Minister, accused the Government of stalling, saying: “Months after they launched the latest competition, ministers have still not said how much money the Government will allow for each project and when, or how many of these projects they expect to survive to the end of the process.
“Minsters must come clean about whether the delays will harm the UK’s ability to access EU funding, which could make the difference between projects going ahead or not.”