East coast CCS could be worth £163bn to UK economy

Article by Helen Tunnicliffe

A CCS network on the UK east coast could boost the national economy by £163bn (US$210bn) by 2060 according to Summit Power, the company behind the Caledonia Clean Energy Project in Grangemouth, UK.

The company has compiled a report with industry and academic collaborators, which it says is the first to quantify the potential societal and financial costs and benefits of investment in CCS. It states that the financial benefits could outweigh the costs by as much as £129bn.

The Caledonia Clean Energy Project will be a 1 GW natural gas-fired power station with CCS, which will also be capable of producing hydrogen. Summit Power is currently in the final stages of a feasibility study, which has had support from the UK and Scottish governments. CO2 will be stored under the North Sea and the storage infrastructure will be available for industry.

The proposed wider network would see dedicated CCS infrastructure linking clusters of high-carbon industry and power generation along the east coast of the UK, including Grangemouth and the Caledonia Clean Energy Project, Teesside, the Humber region, and the South East of England. The whole network would store emissions on the UK continental shelf. The new report, Clean Air – Clean Industry – Clean Growth, looks specifically at this east coast network.

The report’s collaborators include consultants Pale Blue Dot and Industria Mundum, the Tees Valley Combined Authority (where an industry group, the Teesside Collective, is seeking to set up a CCS cluster) and the University of Strathclyde. Industry bodies the Carbon Capture and Storage Assocation (CCSA) and Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (SCCS) also contributed.

“We’ve shown that for every £1 invested in carbon capture, the payback to the UK economy is almost £5. In the medium term, the strategic value to the UK in offering Europe-wide CO2 storage services is undeniable, and could more than double these numbers. We’re already seeing Norway take a strategic lead in this area and it’s vital the UK isn’t left behind. Strong leadership and a clear approach are now required to deliver carbon capture benefits in our economy, our industries and our climate,” said Stephen Kerr, project director of the Caledonia Clean Energy Project.

The report states that most of the investment would occur in the 2020s, for example on the Caledonia Clean Energy Project, the Acorn CCS Project in Aberdeenshire and the Teesside Collective cluster. The CCS infrastructure created could store up to 75m t/y of CO2, around 20% of the UK’s carbon reduction targets. 71% of the capacity would be associated with industrial emissions, which are largely unavoidable, and for which CCS remains the only decarbonisation option.

According to the report, the benefits include avoided costs from emissions, for example in carbon taxes, increased economic activity and investment and the environmental and health benefits of reduced emissions. The UK continental shelf could offer storage to other countries such as Germany, having a positive influence on the UK’s balance of trade. Up to 225,000 jobs could be created or retained by the scheme. The authors believe that the cost of transport and storage of CO2 could be less than £10/t.

The report urges progressing immediately with CCS, as delaying to the 2030s will result in higher costs, the potential for more industry closures, 75,000 fewer jobs and a significant reduction in overall financial benefits.

“The economic and environmental benefits from carbon capture and storage are significant - and the east coast CCS investments study backs this up. On Teesside, we can make progress on developing the necessary infrastructure with a small level of government support,” said Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen. “Teesside Collective is a major driver of CCS in the UK and regions like the Tees Valley will see increased industrial competitiveness and inward investment from the development of a CCS market – a ‘win’ for both Government and industry.”

Luke Warren, chief executive of the CCSA, said that the numbers are “staggering”.

“The benefits of CCS to multiple sectors such as industry, power, heat and transport demonstrate that CCS is integral to meeting the goals of the UK’s industrial strategy, delivering sustainable regions and places that ensure a long-term future for vital industries,” he said. “The value of CCS to the industrial regions of the UK is clearly understood and CCS projects have been proposed on the east coast of England, Scotland and in the north west. It is critical that the government sets out its new approach to developing CCS in the Clean Growth Plan in the next few weeks, and follows this up with concrete actions that enable these projects to proceed, otherwise we risk losing out on the benefits of this vital technology.”



Article by Helen Tunnicliffe

Senior reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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