Energy experts call for a Scottish CO2 Hub to kick-start new UK and EU carbon-capture industry

SCCS carbon storage hub1The Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage project has called for the creation of a Scottish CO2 (carbon dioxide) Hub to help tackle Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions.

This would provide a step-wise, affordable route to creating a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) industry in the UK using existing infrastructure, established shipping technologies and well-characterised storage assets in the Central North Sea.

The SCCS report says a Scottish CO2 hub would serve as a central collection point for CO2 emissions from different sources across Europe, from where the greenhouse gas would be transported for permanent storage in rocks deep beneath the North Sea.

The unique importance of a Scottish CO2 Hub is as the ‘downstream’ component of a Europe-wide CO2 capture, transport and storage system, complementing the ‘upstream’ collection and despatch hubs envisaged for mainland Europe, Scandinavia and England by providing access to low risk, high capacity and cost-effective carbon storage.

This can be achieved economically and rapidly by re-use of existing on- and offshore transport and storage infrastructure to reduce costs, and potentially through value generation1 from CO2 utilisation in CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery (CO2-EOR).

 A flexible shipping solution can transport carbon from eastern England and Europe with low initial capital investment and allow sequential, project-by-project expansion of the system.

The proposed Scottish carbon storage hub would use existing pipelines
The proposed Scottish carbon storage hub would use existing on and off-shore pipelines

A carbon capture cluster in central and eastern Scotland involving both power and industrial emitters can be established using existing transport and storage infrastructure allowing rapid deployment of the whole-chain CCS system for sequential expansion as import volumes from European and other UK carbon hubs become available.

Although small by European standards, this capture cluster would be significant for Scottish emissions, realistically able to halve Scottish industrial emissions and reduce total Scottish emissions from all sources by 20%.

The majority of Scotland’s industrial point-source carbon emissions (80%, 7.8 Mt in 2012) are located around the Firth of Forth, particularly in the Grangemouth area. This area is close to Feeder 10, a high-pressure natural gas pipeline linking to the St Fergus gas terminal, which has been evaluated in detail and can be made available for carbon transport at relatively low cost.

The Grangemouth refinery and petrochemicals complex is ideally located to take advantage of existing infrastructure for carbon transport.

Stuart Haszeldine, SCCS Director and Professor of carbon capture at Edinburgh University, said: “The beauty of this proposal is its flexibility and adaptability.

“From a small start capturing emissions in Scotland with transport and storage based on existing assets, the system can be progressively expanded to receive carbon from England and Europe using shipping, instead of large expensive pipes.

By the early 2020s this can achieve a key milestone in the deployment of CCS – the establishment of commercial storage operations in the North Sea – with a whole new industry following from that.

“A critical point is that while re-evaluation and consideration of CCS options is underway, it is essential than no decommissioning of potentially relevant pipelines, boreholes or offshore facilities is agreed by the UK Government or the Oil & Gas Authority.”

The SCCS report, Scottish CO2 Hub – A unique opportunity for the UK, can be viewed here: http://www.sccs.org.uk/images/expertise/reports/working-papers/wp-2016-01.pdf

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