Milestones for carbon capture projects at sea and in Scotland’s gas sector

Pictured: The Peterhead power station. Image: SSE

Late last week, Samsung Heavy Industries Co. announced that it has partnered with chemicals giant BASF to assess the feasibility of capturing emissions generated by maritime vessels onboard.

The two firms signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the Gastech trade show in Milan. The agreement will see SHI evaluating the feasibility of installing BASF’s flue gas capture technology, OASE Blue, onboard its ships.

OASE Blue is already commercially available to power plants and to heavy industry sites using steam turbines. It uses solvent-based methods of carbon capture. Flue gas is fed through a unit where it is scrubbed with a chemical solvent. This separates out the CO2 and hydrogen sulfide.

Samsung Heavy Industries has delivered more than 1,220 ships and has taken orders for more than 150 additional vessels. It has stated that onboard CCS, alongside efficiency improvements and the adoption of alternative fuels, may have a key role to play for the shipping sector to meet its climate targets.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has set a target for the sector to reduce its carbon intensity by at least 40% by 2030, against a 2008 baseline. An 80% reduction against the same baseline should be pursued by 2050. In terms of absolute emissions, the IMO’s strategy outlines a halving between 2008 and 2050. The strategy will be revised next year with, potentially, stricter targets, and more detail on achieving the necessary rate of decarbonisation.

Samsung Heavy Industries’ head of shipbuilding, sales and engineering, Youngku Han, said the trials on onboard CCS “will help gain a competitive advantage in a low carbon shipping market”.

Shipping is currently responsible for around 3% of global CO2e emissions, but researchers for the European Parliament believe this proportion could rise to 17.5% by mid-century without a step-change in approach.

CCS in Scotland

The news from Milan came shortly after Mitsubishi secured a front-end engineering design (FEED) contract for CCS at the Peterhead Power Station in Aberdeenshire.

The CCS is jointly being developed by SSE and Equinor Energy AS/ SSE is the owner and operator of the 1,180MW power station, which first became operational in 1982 and is the largest of its kind in Scotland.

SSE announced in 2020 that it has begun “exploring redevelopment opportunities for a decarbonised power station at Peterhead, using CCS or hydrogen solutions, to ensure the site can continue to provide essential flexible generation in a net-zero world”. The UK Government has notably pledged to end unabated gas-fired electricity generation by 2035.

Mitsubishi claims that the CCS plant it is proposing could capture up to 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 from the power plant each year. Friends of the Earth claims that the plant generated 1.3 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020.  SSE has stated that it will strive for a carbon capture rate of at least 90% at the site.

Carbon captured at the site would be transported and stored under the North Sea.

Also supporting Mitsubishi on the project are engineering firm Tecnicas Reunidas and infrastructure project planning consultancy Worley. Timelines for the likely completion of the project have not yet been released and planning consent is still required from the Scottish Government.

SSE Thermal’s managing director Catherine Raw said: “As renewables scales up, the importance of flexible energy only increases. However, that generation needs to be decarbonised which is why we are committed to delivering this landmark carbon capture project at Peterhead.”

The UK Government’s Ten-Point Plan’s contains a target for the UK to capture at least 20 million tonnes of CO2 annually by 2030, but some believe that capacity of just 10 million tonnes will be likely within this timeframe.

You can read more about the Government’s plans on CCS and the surrounding controversies in this recent article from edie.

Comments (1)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    Let us never forget that CO2 is the Staff of Life, the very basis of the bread on our plates.
    Action with caution, not a mad scramble to make fortunes on the back of public fear and ignorance.
    Moderation in all things!
    Richard Phillips

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