Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited Peterhead this week to help announce a world first for the town.
A project to capture carbon dioxide emmissions from the town’s gas power station has been awarded tens of millions of pounds of funding from the UK government.
Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage (SCCS) confirmed that the Peterhead CCS Project has signed an agreement with the UK Government for a front-end engineering and design (FEED) study.
Mr Clegg said: “This has been in the pipeline for some time now. It’s very exciting because this hasn’t been done anywhere else in the world.
“This project alone, when up and running, will create clean energy for half a million households across Scotland and the UK.”
The announcement is a crucial milestone on the path to 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 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 shortlisted by the UK Government in its CCS Commercialisation Programme.
The White Rose CCS Project in Yorkshire recently secured its own funding.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey joined Mr Clegg for the announcement and said: “We’re leading in Europe on this and indeed we’re global leaders.
“It’s going to be really important for our low carbon agenda but also really important for jobs and growth.”
Mr Davey said the CCS projects here in the North East and in Yorkshire - if given the go ahead after the FEED study - could generate as many as 2,000 jobs in construction.
Peterhead will capture and store up to 90 percent of the CO2 emissions from one of the power station’s three turbines, providing a low-carbon source of electricity for homes and businesses across the UK.
This is the latest chapter in the north east’s historic links to offshore resources – from whaling to herring fishing, from oil and gas production to renewable energy.
The proximity to existing oil and gas infrastructure and potential CO2 storage sites - in particular the Goldeneye natural gas resevoir - 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 way to develop a CCS industry for the UK.
Shell’s business opportunity manager for the Peterhead project, Bill Spence, will be spearheading the study,
He told the Buchanie: “We’ve got a really good sweetspot here: two companies are interested in doing this and on top of that we’ve got a government which has done the hard numbers to realise this is the lowest cost way to decarbonise.
“We then look at infrastructure - we’ve got a power plant in perfect time of operation, with at least a 10 or 15 year operating life, and at the same time off shore we’ve got the Goldeneye resevoir.
“Now that the gas from the resevoir has been depleted, we can can take the carbon that once came from off shore, capture that, and put it back out there using the same pipeline, same wells, same resevoir.
“So we’ve got a real sweetspot of the right partners and the right infrastructure to do this in the North East of Scotland.”
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.
“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.”