By Bob Duncan
Two Scottish projects have made it through to the shortlist of CCS projects which will now be considered for financial support.
The UK Government have announced that carbon capture projects in Peterhead and Grangemouth had both made it onto a four project shortlist that will be considered for financial support in the New Year.
Scotland has been let down on two previous occasions, once when Westminster delays and indecision caused funders to back out of the Peterhead project and once when promised funding was withdrawn from a Longannet CCS project at a late stage, effectively killing the project off.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS), refers to a set of technologies designed to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from large-point sources such as coal-fired power plants to mitigate greenhouse gas production.
CCS technology (or sequestration) involves capturing CO2 and then storing the carbon in a reservoir, instead of allowing it to be released into the atmosphere where its accumulation contributes to climate change
Supporters claim that CCS has the ability to revolutionise how the world combats global warming. But even advocates admit that there is a lot of work to be done to prove that the technology can succeed in practice.
A complete CCS system involving geologic carbon storage includes four basic steps with different technologies required for each step:
(1) capture the CO2 from a power plant or other concentrated stream;
(2) transport the CO2 gas from the capture location to an appropriate storage location;
(3) inject the CO2 gas into an underground reservoir; and
(4) monitor the injected CO2 to verify its storage.
Technologies that are commercially-used in other sectors are currently available for each of these components, but no production scale system which combines all four has yet been completed.
The Peterhead project would combine all four CCS technologies in a single production system. It will also be the first industrial scale project in the world to combine three separate technologies – hydrogen production, power generation and carbon capture and storage – to generate electricity using hydrogen from natural gas.
It was also announced that Peterhead would be considered a reserve project when applying for European funding through the NER300 scheme, while the Sound of Islay Tidal project has been put forward as a full candidate project for NER300 funding.
Last June, the Peterhead project secured the UK’s first licence to store carbon dioxide (CO2) offshore under the seabed. An agreement for lease (AfL) was announced by the Crown Estate, confirming that carbon from the gas-fired power plant at Peterhead can be pumped to Shell’s depleted Goldeneye field, about 65 miles off the Buchan coast.
A Scottish Enterprise study revealed last year that the north-east CCS plan could create 937 jobs and lead to £590million of investment during construction.
Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson whose Banffshire & Buchan Coast constituency covers Peterhead said:
“It is positive news that Peterhead is one of two Scottish projects to make it onto the final shortlist for funding for carbon capture.
“I firmly believe that Peterhead has an extremely strong case to make and I would certainly hope that the UK Government will fully recognise that when it makes its decisions in the New Year.
“Westminster has a sorry track record when it comes to supporting innovative carbon capture projects in the past, with jobs and investment allowed to slip away before at Peterhead and Longannet.
“People in Peterhead remember all too well that they have been let down before by dithering at Westminster, so what is most important is that history is not allowed to repeat itself.”
Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald added:
“The fact that Scottish projects make up half the shortlist for CCS funding clearly reflects the fact that Scotland has the biggest CO2 storage capacity in Europe.
“Getting this technology right can bring huge investment and many jobs to Scotland, but to get there it is essential that these projects are supported in their early days.”