British CCS ‘could service many parts of mainland Europe’

Carbon and capture storage (CCS) sites face no technical difficulties to permanently and safely store industrial-scale CO2 off the coast of the UK, and the hubs could potentially be developed to service mainland Europe, according to a new report produced for the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).

Commissioned and delivered by the ETI, the new report states that CCS could – and should – play an important role in the long-term decarbonisation of the UK energy system.

Decades of oil and gas exploration and development activity have ensured that large quantities of carbon dioxide can be made readily available without having to undertake extensive appraisal programmes, the report finds.

ETI’s CCS programme manager Andrew Green, said: “The results from this project have confirmed the understanding that there are no major technical hurdles to moving industrial scale CO2 storage forward in the UK. Indeed the UK could form the basis of a storage resource that could service the needs of many parts of Europe in addition to its own needs.”

‘Lowest-cost solution’

The report estimates the strategic national CO2 potential to be worth roughly 78GT, with the top 15% of the storage capacity capable of lasting for around 100 years. The five sites identified by the project for detailed analysis were deemed suitable for storing CO2 emissions from both power and industry projects around the UK.

Green continued: “The five sites featured in the study, along with three others developed previously, could collectively store over 1.5GT of CO2, and could be fully operational as early as 2030 which would be enough to service a significant roll out of commercial projects, including up to 10GW of power generation and major industrial sources fitted with CCS, as highlighted in earlier ETI analysis. This would represent the development of only 2% of the UK’s national storage resource potential.

“Our view is that CCS should still play an important role in the long-term decarbonisation of the UK energy system and continues to offer the lowest cost solution to meeting the UK’s legally binding 2050 climate change targets.”

Breakthrough tech

The news comes during an uncertain period for the storage technology after the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) shockingly decided to axe the £1bn UK CCS fund last November. But despite being put on the backburner by the Government, the technology is making advancements through a number of innovative, industry-led projects.

Last week, ExxonMobil announced a new CCS partnership with utilities company Fuel Cell Energy. That collaboration will see ExxonMobil research the effectiveness of carbonate fuel cells, which the firm says could “substantially reduce” production costs for the company and create an economic pathway towards large-scale CCS applications across the globe.

And the start of the year, fossil fuel giant Statoil announced it would carry out feasibility studies for CCS at three locations on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

Meanwhile, a “breakthrough” CCS technology could soon enable Europe’s cement and lime industries to significantly reduce their environmental footprint after receiving €12m backing from the European Union.

George Ogleby

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie