Government commitment to low carbon technology provides a major step forward for green recovery

St Fergus in North East Scotland could be home to critical net zero infrastructure. Image Credit: Shell

Pale Blue Dot, the lead developer of the Acorn carbon capture and storage and hydrogen project in Scotland warmly welcomes today’s announcement of a further investment in low carbon technology. 

Nick Cooper, CEO of Pale Blue Dot, said, 

‘The ability to capture and store significant volumes of CO2 under the North Sea in CCS projects such as Acorn will be a crucial part of the UK’s journey to reaching net zero by 2050. The UK has the geology, the expertise and now the Government will, to make world-scale CCS projects a reality. These ingredients will allow the UK to not only provide global leadership in developing this vital tool to mitigate climate change, but create a whole new industry in carbon management.’

The project, which will be storing CO2 by the mid-2020s will create around 2,000 direct jobs during the five-year construction period of the initial CCS and hydrogen projects and around 300 long term jobs as the projects become operational. As the Acorn carbon management chain grows, the number of new jobs created is expected to grow substantially beyond these initial levels. Crucially, however, because Acorn capitalises on infrastructure that is for the most part already in place, it can be developed cost-effectively and quickly, helping the UK Government to achieve its CCS ambitions as part of a green recovery.

Notes: 

For more information about Acorn visit: www.theacornproject.uk.

The Acorn Project is led by Pale Blue Dot Energy with funding from the UK and Scottish Governments, and the European Union and funding and support from industry partners, Shell, Chrysaor and Total. 

For more information on the UK Government Ten Point Plan for a Green industrial revolution click here.

Pale Blue Dot Energy and Carbon Engineering create partnership to deploy Direct Air Capture in the UK

Pale Blue Dot Energy are delighted to announce a new partnership with Carbon Engineering (CE), a leading provider of Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology that captures carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere. The companies have announced their intentions to work together to deploy commercial DAC projects in the UK and have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on the development of facilities that will contribute towards the removal of millions of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere each year. This agreement marks the first partnership between a DAC technology company and a UK development partner and signifies the next step towards establishing a UK DAC industry that will create significant environmental and economic benefits.

Read the press release here

Image credit: – Carbon Engineering – Rendering of what one of Carbon Engineering’s large-scale Direct Air Capture plants could look like

Hydrogen Demand – Expressions of Interest

The Hydrogen in Scotland report published in September 2020 summarises that Scotland could be producing 121 TWh of hydrogen by 2050 through a combination of hydrogen supplied from the reforming of natural gas with carbon capture and storage (blue hydrogen) and the electrolysis of water (green hydrogen). Acorn Hydrogen will initiate large scale hydrogen production starting with a 200MWt reformer in 2025 at St Fergus in North East Scotland, with the project acting as a catalyst for developing the hydrogen market within Scotland and beyond.

Several key enablers are required to enable hydrogen development at scale, including clarity on the business model to support hydrogen production and use. To further support large scale hydrogen production a further enabler is the need to establish long term potential demand for hydrogen.

With this in mind the Acorn Hydrogen Project is inviting Expressions of Interest from large energy users who are interested in receiving hydrogen, most probably as a low carbon fuel switch. Whether you are an existing or planned site, if you have genuine interest in being supplied hydrogen for your operation then Acorn Hydrogen would like to hear from you.

The input will also help inform the logistics, practicalities and prioritisation of the various routes to market being explored for how hydrogen is moved from points of generation to points of use. Whilst 2025 might appear to be a long time in the future, projects of the scale of Acorn Hydrogen take several years to mature.

Please follow this link to the simple, Hydrogen Demand Expression of Interest form.

Hydrogen in Scotland: The Role of Acorn Hydrogen in Enabling Net Zero

A perspective from Sam Gomersall, Pale Blue Dot Energy’s Hydrogen Champion

Scotland could be producing 121 TWh of Hydrogen by 2050, sufficient to meet all its own needs and exporting to Europe. Hydrogen is key to meeting Net Zero and rapid action is required to address climate change. Acorn Hydrogen will initiate large scale hydrogen production by 2025 at St Fergus in North East Scotland and will act as a catalyst for the regional and national hydrogen transformation, enable Net Zero and provide a key stepping-stone for the Just Transition. In the report Hydrogen in Scotland recently completed by Element Energy, the role of the Acorn Hydrogen Project in enabling Net Zero has been assessed based on potential hydrogen growth scenarios.

In 2019, the Climate Change Act, approved by the Scottish Government, set the ambitious target to achieve a carbon neutral Scotland by 2045, five years earlier than the UK Net Zero target. To accomplish these targets, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has identified hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) as indispensable technologies for the transition, highlighting the importance of an early deployment of these technologies beginning in the 2020s.

The Acorn Hydrogen project will be the first large-scale hydrogen project developed in Scotland, located at the St Fergus gas terminal, where 35% of the UK’s annual gas supply enters the National Transmission System. The project is initially planning the construction of a 200 MW hydrogen production plant, that could become operational by 2025, and which would allow for a 2% hydrogen blend by volume into the National Transmission System (NTS). The emissions from the hydrogen production would be captured, transported, and safely stored offshore deep underground, reusing current oil and gas infrastructure, enabled by the sister project, Acorn CCS.

The project is highly scalable, due to large volumes of natural gas feedstock available, the massive offshore CO2 storage capacity and the availability of existing offshore pipeline infrastructure. This means that large volumes of hydrogen can be generated in the 2020s and beyond, offering an opportunity to establish hydrogen infrastructure before other complementary decarbonisation technologies reach scale.

The report considered the potential role for hydrogen in decarbonizing heat through the gas network, either by blending or 100% hydrogen, potential hydrogen use in power generation at Peterhead Power Station and supply of hydrogen for industrial and transport applications. The work looked at the complimentary and evolving roles of blue hydrogen (hydrogen from natural gas with CCS) and green hydrogen (hydrogen from the electrolysis of water).

The report found that Acorn Hydrogen could play an essential role in unlocking benefits across Scotland and the UK, including helping achieve Net Zero, driving economic growth, and developing both physical and intangible assets that could be leveraged in the longer term. In terms of emissions reduction, just displacing natural gas for heat would reduce emissions by 9MtCO2/year.

Large-scale adoption of hydrogen would also result in economic growth and long-term job creation across the hydrogen supply chain. The macro-economic benefits of a Scottish hydrogen economy would be multiple and would cover several sectors, ranging from hydrogen production through reformation and CCUS, to gas grid conversion, and spanning to production and operation of electrolysers and deployment of off-shore wind.

Acorn Hydrogen would bring an opportunity for future hydrogen projects to exploit the physical assets that early deployment of Acorn Hydrogen would enable and are needed in the transition towards Net Zero.

Hydrogen presents a stepping-stone in the Just Transition. By leveraging local skills from workers in the oil and gas sector and applying them to hydrogen and CCS, regional supply chain jobs can be protected. Similarly, the relatively low disruption brought in by the use of hydrogen in carbon-intensive sectors, such as power plants or industry, means that current workforce skills would be easily transferred once hydrogen substitutes for natural gas, thus leading to job retention and savings associated with reskilling.   

Acorn Hydrogen is key to Scotland’s hydrogen economy. Hydrogen will create economic growth, act as a catalyst for Net Zero and unlock wider long-term growth opportunities which can support the Just Transition.

Back to the Future; Hydrogen in the Gas Grid

With the urgent need to act on the climate crisis, the time has come for widespread development of hydrogen projects. Hydrogen has a critical and massive role to play in decarbonizing emissions from heat, industry, transport and power.

“The world is on fire”. Urgent action to address climate change is required, but current actions are too slow. In the UK around half of our emissions are related to heat and most of that comes in the form of natural gas, which emits CO2 at the point of use. Whilst we are making some progress decarbonizing power and transport, little progress is being made decarbonizing heat. Urgent action is required.

Our UK objectives are clear, to be net zero by 2050 (2045 in Scotland). Scotland has also committed to reducing emissions from fossil fuel use by 70% by 2030, only 10 years away. Time is short.

Hydrogen is an energy vector, to be considered in a similar way to electricity and gas, as a means of storing and transporting energy to end users. Using hydrogen is not new. It used to be part of the gas stream prior to our conversion to natural gas.

The time has come to accelerate the deployment of hydrogen as a replacement for natural gas in the gas distribution system, initially as a blend of natural gas and hydrogen. In the UK, several such gas reformation projects are underway; Acorn in Scotland, Hynet in the North West and H21 in Yorkshire.

Other projects are underway to design, test and understand the impact, cost and effect of hydrogen in the gas system. Together these projects create real opportunity for providing low carbon heat for the UK in the short term, which will be essential if we are to meet our climate change objectives.

Producing hydrogen from natural gas without emitting CO2 , requires the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) to permanently store the CO2 separated from the gas during hydrogen production. Several CO2 storage projects are being assessed around the UK, the most mature project being Acorn CCS in Scotland.

To make the system transformation successful requires us to put a price on carbon and to enable a just transition this needs to be done in a fair and proper way. This carbon pricing structure will take time to develop, which in the interest of climate change, we do not have. In the meantime, these early projects need to get started and government and developers need to work closely together to create interim funding models which support their development.

It is time for urgent action and collaboration to move quickly and develop hydrogen as a replacement for natural gas. It’s time to go back to the future.

Acorn Hydrogen and a number of other exciting hydrogen initiatives received funding last week from the UK Government’s second phase Hydrogen Supply Competition.