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CCS expertise and opportunity in the UK

SCCS Conference 2015 Report

This report, published on 23 March 2016, derives from the SCCS 2015 Conference, which brought together policymakers, industry, academia and representatives from Scottish, UK and European governments. It presents the UK’s unique set of assets and opportunities that can create a viable route to a zero-carbon economy. These include:

  • Retaining skilled jobs and creating new industries at clusters of industrial emitters around the UK coastline, with plans already developed for shared-cost CCS "hubs"
  • A globally significant and exceptional North Sea geological asset for CO₂ storage
  • An oil and gas workforce that routinely delivers high-quality infrastructure and could build a new offshore CCS industry serving the UK and Europe
  • An enviable research & development community with its amassed knowledge and strategic international collaborations
  • Large-scale CCS projects poised to decarbonise industry and power generation

 

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The report calls for a reset of objectives and ambition in the UK, and recommends a concerted effort by industry, government and academia in four key areas:

Delivering industrial CCS: Many industries can decarbonise at a low capture cost, but that still outweighs the current carbon price. If the UK Government wants to retain industry, it should develop funding mechanisms for CCS as a top-up to the carbon price. An East Scotland Low Carbon Zone, potentially in partnership with Teesside, could provide industrial emitters with access to CO₂ transport and storage facilities and support the creation of production hubs future-proofed against the rising cost of emitting carbon.

Genuinely CCS-ready power: If gas-fired power generation forms a sizeable proportion of UK demand, in line with government policy, then future plants must be genuinely CCS-ready, unlike the simplistic assessments made now, and their siting assessed alongside the viability and cost of pipeline and/or shipping connections to suitable CO₂ storage sites. The decommissioning of North Sea infrastructure means the door is closing fast on reusing equipment to access storage sites.

Clarity on cost: A correct statement of the cost of CCS occurs only when capture costs are separated from transport and storage. At present, the first CCS projects are expected to bear the full cost of infrastructure despite the fact that follow-on projects would benefit from this development. This creates an uneven playing field against other forms of low-carbon power, such as offshore wind or nuclear.

A Scottish CO₂ Hub: The development of a CO₂ collection and storage hub in Scotland could unlock a CCS industry serving both the UK and Europe, providing access to extensive and well-characterised storage in the Central North Sea at low financial risk. By using cost-effective shipping, this can support the collection-and-dispatch hubs envisaged for mainland Europe, Scandinavia and England, and could be expanded sequentially on a project-by-project basis.


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