Perspectives & News

SGN and Pale Blue Dot collaborate on Aberdeen Hydrogen Vision

SGN and Pale Blue Dot Energy are working together in collaboration with National Grid Transmission to evaluate the potential uses of an exciting new energy option that could find a natural home in the north east of Scotland.

Hydrogen provides a means to eliminate CO2 emissions from the future energy system. When it is used to make energy, the only by-products are water, and CO2 when the hydrogen is made from natural gas.

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.

 

Acorn Hydrogen awarded UK Government Hydrogen Supply Competition Funding

Pale Blue Dot Energy, the project developer behind Acorn CCS and Acorn Hydrogen, is delighted to have been awarded funding from the second phase of the UK Government’s Hydrogen Supply  Competition.

This award will support 13 months of engineering studies, to progress the technical and commercial plans for the Acorn Hydrogen project at the St Fergus gas terminal.  This first phase of Acorn Hydrogen will establish the technology to convert some of the natural gas at the St Fergus gas terminal in North East Scotland into hydrogen – a clean burning fuel.

In the UK, around half of all our energy is used for heat. The majority of this heat is provided by burning natural gas, which emits carbon dioxide (CO2). Replacing some, or all of this natural gas by blending hydrogen into the National Transmission System (NTS) will help reduce CO2 emissions. The CO2 emissions that are created from converting natural gas to hydrogen at St Fergus will all be captured and permanently stored using the Acorn carbon capture and storage (CCS) infrastructure that is on track to be operating at St Fergus from 2024.

Sam Gomersall, Pale Blue Dot Energy Commercial Director said:

‘Acorn Hydrogen is a hugely exciting project that is a critical step for Scotland and the UK to reach its ambitious climate change targets. We are working extremely hard, alongside our project study partners: Chrysaor, Shell and Total, to progress this important component of the wider Acorn initiatives, in the aim that Acorn Hydrogen’s first injection of hydrogen into the gas grid is in 2025. Blending as little as 2% hydrogen into the National Transmission System would remove 400,000 tonnes of CO2 per year from the energy system, and that is just the starting point with an ambition to decarbonise all the natural gas flowing through St Fergus’.

Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Gowth, Kwasi Wwarteng said:

“Hydrogen offers the opportunity of a cleaner, greener fuel for heating our homes and getting us from A to B. The innovative Acorn project is a clear step in that direction – particularly in this year of climate action”.

Detailed design work on Acorn CCS is already underway, and with this earlier stage design on the first phase of Acorn Hydrogen now started, Acorn is on track to establish critical infrastructure in the mid-2020s ahead of then significantly expanding both Acorn CCS and Acorn Hydrogen, delivering a serious contribution to UK and Scottish Net Zero targets.

Download the press release here – Acorn Hydrogen_Press Statement.

Pale Blue Dot Energy welcomes the launch of the NECCUS alliance

The team at Pale Blue Dot Energy, the Project Developers behind Acorn CCS and Acorn Hydrogen, are delighted to be at Holyrood today to support the Ministerial launch of the North East Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage Alliance (NECCUS).

This formal collaboration between industry, academia and Government is a really encouraging sign of support for the urgent deployment of both carbon capture and storage infrastructure and hydrogen production in Scotland, to help the country’s bid to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2045.

All the signatories to the NECCUS alliance are agreeing to work together to support the Scottish energy transition. This co-ordinated effort to address hard to decarbonise sectors like heat, heavy industry, transport, and chemicals through the deployment of CCUS and hydrogen production with CCS, is critically important, and echoes the strong recommendations from Chris Stark, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, who said, Carbon capture and storage is a necessity not an option for enabling the UK as a whole to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.’

Alan James, Managing Director at Pale Blue Dot Energy said,

“This ground-breaking alliance is a major boost to the work we are doing to develop the Acorn CCS and Acorn Hydrogen projects and at Pale Blue Dot, we are very proud to be amongst the founding members of the alliance. The conversations we are having in Scotland now, are all about enabling, and making the best possible use of the country’s incredible existing resources. With supportive Government and development agencies, and now an impressive collection of Scotland’s largest emitters seriously engaging with this technology. It feels like CCS is finally beginning to get the recognition and support it requires.”

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Acorn Infrastructure Project Recognised as European Project of Common Interest

Pale Blue Dot Energy, the project developers behind the Acorn Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project, have welcomed the recent inclusion of the Acorn infrastructure project, “CO2 Sapling” on the European Commission’s fourth list of Projects of Common Interest (PCI) for implementing cross-border energy infrastructure in the European Union.

Pale Blue Dot Energy Director, Steve Murphy said,

“We are delighted that the European Commission have again chosen to recognise the Acorn infrastructure project as a European Project of Common Interest. Acorn has held this PCI status since 2017 when the cross border CO2 networks category was first included in the PCI listings.

“Through this initiative, Acorn was the first CCS project to successfully bid for Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funds, helping us progress our designs for the CO2 pipeline and shipping infrastructure to and from the Acorn hub at St Fergus and Peterhead in North East Scotland.

“This PCI Listing presents great opportunities for the wider Acorn project and the timely delivery of CCS in the UK and Europe.’

The Hydrogen Coast

As a result of various hydrogen projects we have been working on Pale Blue Dot Energy are delighted to launch the Hydrogen Coast initiative. A summary of key hydrogen projects along the East Coast of Scotland, demonstrating the leadership and innovation of this region.

The projects we are involved with include the Acorn Hydrogen Project, designed to produce low carbon hydrogen from natural gas at St Fergus and the Aberdeen Vision Project, to export hydrogen by blending into the gas grid and converting the region’s gas distribution system to hydrogen.

Please find ‘The Hydrogen Coast’ summary document here.

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