Report: There is Enough UK CO2 Storage Capacity for Decades to Come

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There is ample capacity for storing captured carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new report that argues low cost storage sites could support a series of carbon capture hubs along the east coast of the UK.

The report from the government and industry-backed Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) details how large scale storage sites under the North Sea could be accessed using shared infrastructure that would provide “the lowest cost route to developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the UK”.

Entitled Taking Stock of UK CO2, the report calculates the UK has more than enough potential CO2 storage sites to meet its needs out to 2050, adding that a substantial number of prospective sites have already been fully or partially appraised.

“There appears to be no significant technical barrier that would limit the CCS industry developing at scale in the UK from a number of strategic shoreline hubs,” the ETI said.

The study should provide a boost to plans to develop a series of CCS hubs in the north east, which could capture emissions from industrial sites and power stations in the region.

The government is currently working on plans for a new approach for supporting the sector, after a high profile £1bn demonstration fund was controversially cancelled in 2015.

Ministers are understood to be concerned about the relatively high cost of CCS technology. But advocates of the technology maintain costs are falling and the approach is likely to be essential for curbing emissions from heavy industry and capturing carbon from biomass power plants to deliver negative emissions.

The ETI report also cites recent research carried out with Heriot Watt and Durham Universities, Element Energy and T2 Petroleum Technology, which shows that brine production can increase storage capacity and injection rates cost effectively.

Dennis Gammer, the ETI’s CCS strategy manager and the report’s author, said the study suggested that a route to market for new CCS projects could be developed.

“Following the closure of the government’s CCS commercialisation competition, we have reassessed options for developing the UK’s possible CCS transport and storage infrastructure and found that there is no shortage of potential storage sites, either fully or partially appraised,” he said in a statement.

“Any attractive CCS projects to developers and the government will need to realise economies of scale at, or relatively shortly after start-up, and because of this are most likely to be large gas power stations delivering strategic infrastructure to enable the later tie-in of industrial emissions. For some potential matches of emitter and store options to start small and build quickly may reduce the size of any initial commitment at risk and this offers an additional approach to building a CCS network.”