||Termination of the most recent Government CCS Commercialisation competition late in 2015 was a major setback for the decarbonisation of the fossil power and industrial sectors in the UK. Now the dust has settled, we review in this paper what we have learned about the CO2 storage aspects of CCS in particular, and other aspects of CCS that have changed over the last few years, since we first published our analysis of the UK’s CO2 storage options in 2013.
At the point of cancellation, the two competing projects, Peterhead and White Rose, were advanced in terms of carrying out engineering and appraisal work, and some of the information gained by the projects has now been published by the government on its CCS website. The UK Government also funded the Strategic UK Storage Appraisal Project (S.SAP Project), via the ETI in 2015/16, in which a consortiumled by Pale Blue Dot (PBD) partially appraised several other potential CO2 stores in UK waters, and this work has also been published. We will step back from the “two-horse race” of two years ago and examine different issues affecting the starting point for the CCS projects we believe are necessary to deeper decarbonise our power, industrial and potentially domestic energy use.
Internationally, in the short period since the cancellation of the projects, confidence in the technical success of the industry has grown with successful operation of plants including Quest, Sask Power and recently Petra Nova, all in North America. However, key stakeholder confidence in the UK has been eroded by successive competition cancellations, and a clearer picture of risk allocation within the project chain and value recognition is needed to regain momentum
- In recent years Government funding has supported the initial appraisal of several offshore CO2 storage options in the Southern and Central North Sea and East Irish Seas. Appraisal work completed to date is encouraging, and completion of this alone would present a sizeable, diverse and low cost CO2 storage offering
- There is more than enough potential storage capacity to meet the UK’s needs for CO2 storage to 2050 and well beyond, even in high Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) deployment scenarios
- Based on the appraisal work to date, there are no technical barriers to the storage of CO2 in offshore stores that would limit the CCS industry developing at scale in the UK
- Large-scale stores (capable of storing over 3MT/a) are essential for low cost CO2 storage, but some UK stores could allow an investment to “start small and build” to de-risk elements of the project, and then grow fast subsequently with low regret
- The contribution CCS can make to decarbonising the industrial sector is considerable, including a few opportunities with low capture costs (ammonia, H2, biofuels).However, due to their scale, the unit costs of transport and storage from most industrial projects will be high, and these will not catalyse new CCS infrastructure. Conversely, when this infrastructure has been provided, industry can join storage networks at acceptable costs
- In spite of the demise of local coal-fired power stations, the Humber estuary (and to a lesser extent Tees and Thames) will still have a very large existing emission base, good sites for large new low carbon power stations and industry, and access to large, low cost, offshore storage sites.