Sizewell C nuclear power station and Associated British Ports (ABP) – UK’s leading port operator with a network of 21 ports across Britain have agreed to work together to build an innovative heat-powered direct air capture (DAC) facility.
The facility will be a demonstration project that will aim to test a new DAC technology using heat from Sizewell C rather than electricity to run. The location of the project will be at the Port of Lowestoft. If successful, the large-scale direct air capture project is planned to be at a separate location from the power station, with the heat transported through underground pipes.
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The large-scale facility could potentially capture 1.5 million metric tons of CO2 each year. The two companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to lease a site at the port and seek planning permission to build the plant.
The project also received a £3 million ($3.7 million) grant from the government’s Greenhouse Gas Removals competition in 2022 – a competition by the UK government that will provide funding for developing technologies that enable the removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere in the country.
“We are delighted to be developing plans with ABP to locate the demonstrator DAC facility at the Port of Lowestoft and to help drive net zero innovation in the East of England… DAC is one part of our plan to make Sizewell C a low-carbon hub, which will help kickstart other technologies and deliver even more value to our energy system.” said Sizewell C’s Managing Director for Financing, Julia Pyke.
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Direct air capture and storage is an essential carbon removal technology that could help significantly reduce the excess atmospheric CO2 emissions that have already built up. However, innovation is needed in the space to reduce the large electricity consumption of the technology, as it could compete with households for clean electricity usage.
If DAC technologies redirect a large proportion of clean energy from communities, the amount would have to be compensated by fossil fuel energy which threatens DAC’s viability as an effective carbon removal solution.