Ex-BP boss backs new Scots renewable report on huge N. Sea carbon-capture potential


Pale Blue Dot carbon capture report May 2016Banchory-based Scottish renewables consultancy Pale Blue Dot Energy – along with partners Axis Well Technology and Costain – has completed a comprehensive 12 month study which seeks to progress the development of the UK’s strategic carbon dioxide storage resource. 

The study – commissioned by the Energy Technologies Institute with funding from DECC – focussed on speeding up development of strategically-important UK offshore CO2 storage capacity in the North Sea and leveraging investment to develop this capacity.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is critical to the cost effective transition to the low carbon economy required by the COP21 agreement.  The UK was one of 171 countries that signed the agreement at the UN in New York in late April 2016. 

Simply put, without CCS, the transition to the low carbon economy that the UK is now committed to will be more difficult and more expensive.

In the UK, there have been several full-chain CCS projects which have completed FEED studies including offshore storage development plans. These include:

  • Peterhead DF-1 to Miller Oil field – EOR and Storage – BP
  • Longannet PCC to Goldeneye – Storage – Scottish Power, National Grid Carbon and Shell
  • Kingsnorth PCC to Hewett – Storage – Eon
  • Don Valley IGCC to Central North Sea EOR and Storage – 2COEnergy
  • White Rose Oxy Fuel to Endurance – Storage – Capture Power and National Grid Carbon

But none of these projects have progressed beyond engineering design and appraisal stage, and the UK government’s shock decision to close the commercialisation programme in November 2015 appears to have been taken largely on the grounds of perceived cost effectiveness.

The new study confirmed previous findings regarding the huge potential capacity of the UK offshore for CO2 storage.

But – crucially – its key new finding is that with careful selection, UK requirements for CO2 storage through to 2050 and beyond could be met by as few as eight storage sites. These eight sites equate to only 2% of total UK carbon storage resource potential.  

A Pale Blue spokesman said: “The key question now is not about whether there is enough capacity, but how cost-effectively it can be mobilised.

This study has developed a portfolio of five additional UK CO2 storage sites. Each site has been subjected to detailed characterisation and assessment and includes a fully costed development plan. 

This approach has enabled the five diverse sites –  which serve most of the major industrial centres in the UK –  to be compared on a like-for-like basis across many different technical and commercial aspects for the first time at this scale and level of detail.

It has clarified that the cost of offshore transport and storage of captured CO2 could add as little as £5 to £9 / MWh onto the levelised cost of gas fired electricity generation.

In his foreword to the report, former BP boss Lord Browne of Madingley said: “We now have one of the most comprehensive and mature propositions for CO2 storage potential.

“I hope these new assessments will support ongoing public and private sector debate on the value and the opportunities presented by CCS and fuel early development of the first UK carbon capture and storage projects, supporting both secure power generation and, critically, the UK’s future industrial base.”

Alan James
Alan James

Alan James, Managing Director, Pale Blue Dot, is speaking today (26 May, in Edinburgh) at SCOTLAND’S RENEWABLE FUTURE forum on ‘Achieving a Net Zero Carbon Future – Cleaning up Scotlands Power, Heat, Industry and Transport’ 

See full programme-  and late booking availability- athttp://www.scotlandsrenewablefuture.co.uk/

Scotland's Renewable Future conference - this Thursday!

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