The energy companies Equinor and SSE Thermal submitted joint proposals for two carbon capture and storage projects for the next round of funding under the UK government’s Cluster Sequencing process.
The two companies want to develop two new power stations equipped with carbon capture technology to remove CO2 from their emissions – one at Keadby in the Humber region and one at Peterhead in the northeast of Scotland.
The Keadby 3 project involves connecting into a shared CO2 transportation and storage pipeline developed through the Zero Carbon Humber and East Coast Cluster partnerships that sequesters the emissions under the Southern North Sea.
The Peterhead station would be on the Aberdeenshire Coast and will decarbonize Scotland’s only major thermal generation site with the captured emissions transported and stored using pipelines being developed by the Acorn Project.
Combined, the two carbon capture projects would store up to 3 million tons of CO2 annually which is also 10% of the UK Government’s 2030 sequestration target. The two companies claim the carbon capture plants play an important part in their efforts to deliver on their emissions reduction strategies.
“SSE’s Net Zero Acceleration Programme will see us invest £12.5bn over the next five years with a focus on low-carbon infrastructure, and whilst renewable generation is at the heart of that strategy, we know we will need flexible low-carbon power to ensure the security of supply when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine,” said Martin Pibworth, SSE’s Group Energy And Commercial Director.
Back in 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution and The Energy White Paper in which the government committed to deploying two carbon capture clusters by the mid-2020s (“Track-1”) and further two clusters by 2030 (“Track-2”).
The Cluster Sequencing Process includes Phase 1 and Phase 2. In Phase 1, the UK government announced the two ‘Track 1’ clusters which will be supported to develop carbon capture and storage infrastructure.
The East Coast Cluster and the Eni-led HyNet carbon capture, storage and utilization projects were named in ‘Track 1’, with the Scottish Cluster named as a reserve cluster. The two initial beneficiaries would receive £1 billion in funding.
In Phase 2, the government will consider individual emitter projects within the clusters. The decision which carbon capture projects are selected in Phase 2 of the sequencing process to receive funding is expected around May 2022.
Equinor and SSE Thermal are just some of the oil and gas companies that are rushing to develop carbon capture projects to decarbonize their operations. As upfront investments for such types of initiatives are still unbearable for many CO2 emitters, receiving government support is critical for the technology to reach economies of scale and become relevant in the highly competitive green energy technology sector.