Scots carbon capture experts to lead EU-funded feasibility study to build full-scale N. Sea industrial site by 2023

From a little Acorn project, great North Seas carbon capture storage facilities may grow
From a little Acorn project, great North Sea carbon capture storage facilities may grow

The ground-breaking Acorn Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Project has now begun a feasibility study after concluding funding from the European Union’s funding round Accelerating CCS Technologies (ACT).

The Acorn CCS project is a phased full-chain project in Grampian which will transport and store CO2 captured initially from the St Fergus gas processing terminal.

The CO2 will be transported offshore and injected deep underground for permanent storage in a saline formation. Later phases will store CO2, a greenhouse gas, from other sources.

The ACT Acorn study is being led by Banchory-based Pale Blue Dot Energy with project Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage (whose members include Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and Aberdeen universities, as well as two more university partners in Norway and the Netherlands).

Steve Murphy, Pale Blue Dot Energy project director, said: “Acorn is an exciting step forward for UK carbon-storage – especially after several false starts in recent years. Acorn starts on a small scale, re-using existing oil and gas infrastructure.

“This is essentially a commissioning phase for a project that could see millions of tonnes of CO2 stored as Acorn expands to include emissions from Scotland’s Central Belt and from future hydrogen produced at St Fergus and the potential import of CO2 via Peterhead harbour.

“We want to encourage the replication of the Acorn project worldwide, and one of our key objectives is to engage with low-carbon stakeholders in Europe and further afield to disseminate lessons learned and tools created.”

The aim of the Acorn project is to deliver a low-cost carbon capture and storage (CCS) system in north east Scotland by 2023.

This project, ACT Acorn, builds upon existing research, such as an appraisal of potential CO2 storage sites and options to re-use oil and gas assets, to move the Acorn project from proof-of-concept towards design studies.

The project is centred on the St Fergus Gas Terminal north of Aberdeen, which is connected to a series of offshore pipelines, three of which could be redeployed.

St Fergus is also connected to the UK National Gas Grid and a dedicated pipeline to the Central Belt, where the Caledonia Clean Energy plant is being considered near Edinburgh.

The project will consider a step-by-step approach to minimise initial investment. It will start with CO2 capture and storage from the gas terminal, and then explore options for build-out to other large-scale sources of emissions in the region and from inbound shipping tankers.

The main work will focus on re-using existing infrastructure, not only for the implementation of Acorn in the UK but also to develop policy recommendations for the preservation of important infrastructure around the wider North Sea basin.

Aage Stangeland, a spokesman for the Research Council of Norway which co-ordinates the ACT fund, said: “The Acorn project looks very promising. The project has the potential to be the start of a CCS value chain in the North Sea. This could make a significant contribution to wide deployment of CCS in Europe.”

Meanwhile, as part of Brit-govt’s Clean Growth Strategy, BEIS is handing out £20 million to design and construct British carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) demonstration projects.

Phase 1 is now open for interested suppliers.

8 Dec 2017

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