Acorn: a seed for the UK CCS industry

Despite considerable effort, the UK has struggled to get Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) started. The UK government has run two competitions to select a project but none have made it to construction. The scale of the proposed projects, with capital costs over £1bn, in a new market have prevented public and private sector agreement being reached.

CCS remains vital for the UK, and many other countries, to meet climate change obligations. By capturing CO2 from industrial sources and existing thermal power stations we can significantly and quickly reduce our emissions. In addition, CCS enables the generation of Hydrogen in bulk which can also be used for low carbon heating and transport.

The best way forwards for CCS in the UK is to initiate CCS with a small scale, full chain project at the lowest possible cost, in the most suitable location for subsequent CCS growth and build out. This is what Acorn is.

Acorn is a small scale full chain project in North-east Scotland. CO2 is captured from existing emissions at the St Fergus gas terminal, which would otherwise enter the atmosphere. It is then transported offshore and injected deep underground for permanent sequestration in a saline formation.

The project will re-use existing oil and gas infrastructure which is now redundant before it is decommissioned. Re-using existing infrastructure reduces project costs and makes best use of old facilities. On its current timetable the project could be operational before 2022.

Acorn also acts as a seed from which CCS can grow. Additional CO2 sources can be added, including Peterhead Power station, ship import via Peterhead Harbour and transport via existing pipeline from industrial and power sources in Central Scotland. Additional transport and storage infrastructure can easily be developed, re-using additional oil and gas pipelines and developing storage sites in the Central North Sea, where data exists from our oil and gas heritage and there are many large scale storage reservoirs.

It’s time for the UK to deliver its first CCS project. One on a small scale, re-using existing oil and gas infrastructure and ideally placed for subsequent CCS growth. One like Acorn.