Independent Scottish non-profit media cooperative The Ferret has published a piece that discusses carbon leakage concerns in the context of Scotland’s carbon capture and storage (CCS) policy.
Two pioneering carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in Norway, Sleipner and Snøhvit, are under scrutiny following revelations of potential carbon dioxide leakage. In Scotland, these projects have been considered crucial examples of successful CCS initiatives, but recent findings have raised doubts about the long-term viability and safety of storing carbon underground.
The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) conducted a comprehensive analysis of expert research on the Sleipner and Snøhvit projects. The findings indicate that both projects experienced unexpected storage behavior that could have led to carbon leakage. If not contained, such leakage could pose environmental risks and undermine the effectiveness of CCS as a climate mitigation strategy.
At the Sleipner project, located in the Norwegian North Sea, CO2 unexpectedly moved upwards from its original storage site into an unknown geological layer after three years of operations. Fortunately, this geological layer acted as a natural boundary, preventing the stored CO2 from escaping.
Similarly, at the Snøhvit project, situated in the Barents Sea, pressure in the storage site rose rapidly to alarming levels just a year and a half after CO2 injection. This unexpected pressure increase required costly investment to address the issue, further raising concerns about the long-term stability of CCS storage sites.
According to environmental campaigners, the recent research indicates that both the Scottish and UK governments have been misled by industry green-washing concerning carbon capture and storage. Since there are currently no large-scale CCS projects operational in the UK, they argue that attempts to store carbon off Scotland’s coast would be a trial-and-error process.
The Scottish Government emphasized that its independent advisers have deemed CCS not just an option but a necessity to achieve net-zero emissions, The Ferret reported. Neil Gray, the energy secretary, cited studies that show a “very high level” of confidence in the long-term security of CO2 stored in typical UK CCS storage facilities.
The government remains optimistic about the potential of CCS, estimating that as early as 2030, around five million metric tons of CO2 could be stored under the North Sea. Additionally, they believe that there is a significant capacity of approximately 46 billion tons of CO2 storage available under Scottish waters.