The University is collaborating with ScottishPower to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
The £5 million, five-year project will seek to advance the environmentally friendly technology, which enables the collection of carbon dioxide when it is generated by power plants.
Capturing the greenhouse gas prevents its release into the atmosphere where it would contribute to global warming.
Instead it is stored safely underground in microscopic rock pores, where eventually it dissolves into underground water.
The investment by ScottishPower has led to the formation of the ScottishPower Academic Alliance, involving up to a dozen researchers from both the University of Edinburgh and Imperial College London.
Their focus will be on technical innovation in CCS, as well as regulation of the technology.
Furthermore, the project will explore the commercial opportunities arising from the technology, especially in creating jobs and training graduates.
This collaboration is expected to result in CCS becoming a reality in the UK by 2014.
Developing a CCS industry in the UK will capitalise on our offshore and engineering expertise and make a significant contribution to the economy of the country. The expertise of all three organisations will help maintain the UK’s leading position in CCS.
The development of such a commercial operation would be expected to result in a 90% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from a coal-fired plant.
This is the equivalent of taking one million cars off the road, according to ScottishPower.
The CCS alliance represents a further development into clean energy by the University, which Prime Minister David Cameron recently praised for its “incredible” work in carbon capture and storage.
The University has an active position on sustainability, and was a founder signatory to the Universities and Colleges Climate Commitment 2009 and to the 10:10 campaign.
Some £12 million has been invested in campus-wide combined heat and power energy projects.
Edinburgh has also been pioneering in offering masters’ degrees focusing on carbon management and carbon finance.