A detailed new Study shows North Sea could store hundreds of years' worth of CO2 emissions.

ScottishPower has outlined a vision for the UK to become a world leader in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), as a detailed study shows that the Central North Sea could store potentially all of Europe's CO2 emissions well into the next century.

The company, which is one of the leaders in the UK Government's competition to develop the UK's first commercial scale CCS project, part funded a one year joint study to assess potential carbon storage sites in a section of the North Sea. The study has identified the largest sites to date, in a number of saline aquifers beneath the seabed and in depleted oil and gas fields. Saline aquifers are porous rock formations filled with high concentration salt water. They are covered by a thick layer of impermeable cap-rock that will keep liquefied CO2 in place.

The study also highlights that there are many depleted oil and gas fields, the geology of which are well known, that could serve the same purpose in the Central North Sea.

Frank Mitchell, Generation Director at ScottishPower, said: "Today's report means that CCS technology is one step closer to moving from the laboratory into reality and within the next five years, ScottishPower could have a full-scale demonstration project working at Longannet, utilising these Central North Sea resources to store CO2."

"Our plans at Longannet involve retrofitting CCS technology to the existing power station by 2014. A retrofit option is essential to enable the technology to be implemented globally, addressing the carbon lock in from over 50,000 fossil fuel power stations in operation throughout the world. We believe the UK can lead the world with this technology, creating new skills, jobs and opportunities for growth.

"This report highlights the capability of the natural resources of the Central North Sea, which is a hugely important element in developing this new technology. We believe Longannet is the best place to prove CCS because of its proximity to these vast resources, which could also potentially store emissions from across the UK and potentially from Europe as well.

"The UK already has the offshore infrastructure and the engineering skills and experience that give us a unique opportunity to play a leading role in this emerging industry and the low carbon economy of the future."