World's first CCS on gas power project will be critical for UK and EU low-carbon ambitions

Peterhead Power Station

Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage (SCCS) welcomes today’s announcement that the Peterhead CCS Project has signed an agreement with the UK Government for a front-end engineering and design (FEED) study. This is a crucial milestone on its path to becoming the world’s first large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) project at a gas-fired power plant, maximising re-use of existing infrastructure and using a depleted gas reservoir offshore for carbon dioxide (CO₂) storage.

The demonstration project is being developed by Shell UK Limited, with strategic support from SSE, in the north east of Scotland. It is one of two to be selected by the UK Government in its CCS Commercialisation Programme. The White Rose CCS Project in Yorkshire recently secured its own design funding.

Peterhead will capture and store up to 90% of the CO₂ emissions from one of the power station's three turbines, cleaning up North Sea gas feedstock and providing a low-carbon source of electricity for homes and businesses across the UK. It will also take an important step towards establishing CCS as Best Available Technology (BAT) or Best System of Emission Reduction (BSER) for CO₂ emissions from natural gas power stations.

This is the latest chapter in the north east region’s historical links to offshore resources – from whaling to herring fishing, from oil and gas production to renewable energy, and now CCS. In 2005, Peterhead power station was the focus of the first public CCS bid in the UK, at that time partnering with BP. The proximity to existing oil and gas infrastructure and potential CO₂ storage sites, alongside established engineering knowledge and expertise in the area, makes Peterhead an ideal location. The project will be a pathfinder to reduce construction and operation costs for follow-on CCS initiatives, and will provide a cost-effective route to developing a CCS industry for the UK.

Professor Stuart Haszeldine, SCCS Director and Professor of CCS at the University of Edinburgh, said:

The Peterhead project is critical to reducing the cost of tackling the UK's carbon emissions by demonstrating that full-chain CCS offers a viable and safe route to doing so. CCS on gas will become even more important, due to the UK Government's emphasis on using more gas for electricity generation, and is inescapable if shale gas emerges as a fuel source for the UK.

[BBC Radio Scotland News]
Prof Stuart Haszeldine was interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland

The flexible operation of this type of CCS linked to gas-fired power makes it an ideal complement to renewables, with the potential to infill electricity generation during variable wind output.

The agreement of the FEED studies for both Peterhead and White Rose also helps give fresh momentum to CCS in Europe. The European Commission's recent proposals for climate and energy policy for 2030 reiterated that accelerated efforts are required during the next decade to develop infrastructure so that CCS can be deployed on industrial sources of CO₂ emissions as well as power generation."

Although gas is frequently hailed as a low-carbon fuel, it is not a zero carbon fuel. CCS will be required on gas power stations to sufficiently reduce CO₂ emissions, but the development of gas CCS projects has, until recently, lagged behind those focused on the use of coal. Despite offering several advantages – such as operational flexibility, cost of electricity and reduced volumes of CO₂ for storage – the US Environmental Protection Agency ruled that CCS on gas is not yet ready for commercial deployment. The Peterhead project therefore carries wider international significance, opening the door to a step change reduction in CO₂ emissions from power generation.

More details about Peterhead can be found on the project website.

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