Progressing Development of the UK’s Strategic Carbon Dioxide Storage Resource – An Introduction

Pale Blue Dot Energy, along with partners Axis Well Technology and Costain have recently completed a comprehensive 12 month study which seeks to progress the development of the UK’s strategic carbon dioxide storage resource.  The study which was commissioned by the Energy Technologies Institute with funding from DECC was focussed at the acceleration of strategically important CO2 storage capacity in the UK offshore area and thereby leverage the further investment to develop this capacity to meet UK needs.

Strategic CO2 project team

Pale Blue Dot Energy, Axis Well Technology and Costain team at the industry stakeholder event on 27th April 2016.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is critical to the cost effective transition to the low carbon economy required by the COP21 agreement.  The UK was one of 171 countries that signed the agreement at the UN in New York in late April 2016.  Simply put, without CCS, the UK’s transition to the low carbon economy that we have now committed to will be more difficult and more expensive for us all.

In the UK, there have been several full chain CCS projects which have completed FEED studies including offshore storage development plans.  These include:

  • Peterhead DF-1 to Miller Oil field – EOR and Storage – BP
  • Longannet PCC to Goldeneye – Storage – Scottish Power, National Grid Carbon and Shell
  • Kingsnorth PCC to Hewett – Storage – Eon
  • Don Valley IGCC to Central North Sea EOR and Storage – 2COEnergy
  • White Rose Oxy Fuel to Endurance – Storage – Capture Power and National Grid Carbon

Despite this effort, no projects have progressed beyond FEED so far, and the UK government’s decision to close the commercialisation programme in November 2015 appears to have been taken largely on the grounds of perceived cost effectiveness.

Whilst the study has confirmed previous findings regarding the huge potential capacity of the UK offshore for CO2 storage, the key new finding is that with careful selection, the UK requirements for CO2 Storage through to  perhaps 2070 could be fulfilled by only 8 storage sites representing perhaps only 2% of the total UKCS CO2 storage resource potential.   The key question now is not about whether there is enough capacity, but how cost effectively it can be mobilised.

This study has, through careful selection, developed a portfolio of five additional UK CO2 storage sites.  These include a variety of storage types, and locations including both depleted gas fields and different types of saline aquifer formation.  Each site has been subjected to detailed characterisation and assessment and includes a fully costed development plan.  This approach has enabled the five diverse sites, which service most of the major industrial centres in the UK, to be compared on a like for like basis across many different technical and commercial aspects for the first time at this scale and level of detail.

It has clarified that the cost of offshore transport and storage of captured CO2 could add as little as £5 to £9 / MWh onto the levelised cost of gas fired electricity generation.

In his foreword to the Summary Report, Lord Browne of Madingley said “From a UK perspective, we now have available in the public domain one of the most comprehensive and mature propositions for CO2 storage potential. I hope these new assessments will support ongoing public and private sector debate on the value and the opportunities presented by CCS and fuel early development of the first UK carbon capture and storage projects, supporting both secure power generation and, critically, the UK’s future industrial base.

The report was presented at an industry stakeholder event on 27th April and was formally released by ETI on 12th May.    This article serves as a quick index to the structure and components of the project.

The overall workflow of the study is illustrated above.  Building from a foundation of the UKCS wide CO2Stored database, a selection process distilled a portfolio of five sites each of which was subjected to detailed study.

The outputs from the study fall broadly into three groups:-

  1. Click here to look more into the Summary and Build Out strategy reports
  2. Click here to read more about Site and portfolio selection
  3. Click here to read further about the storage development plans for five key sites

On the 9th of June, the Global CCS Institute are hosting a webinar on this project, where we will be providing a more detailed look at the results of this project. To register, click here.

This article was written by Alan James.

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