Scotland could cost-effectively become Europe’s carbon capture and storage hub, building on existing infrastructure to save decommissioning cost, a new report has suggested.
Published by Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage, the document envisions Scotland first developing a smaller centre serving the local energy and industrial sectors before eventually establishing a large-scale carbon capture and storage system collecting CO2 from across Europe.
“The beauty of this proposal is its flexibility and adaptability,” said Professor Stuart Haszeldine, from the University of Edinburgh.
“From a small start capturing emissions in Scotland with transport and storage based on existing assets, the system can be progressively expanded to receive CO2 from England and Europe using shipping, instead of large expensive pipes. By the early 2020s this can achieve a key milestone in the deployment of CCS – the establishment of commercial storage operations in the North Sea – with a whole new industry following from that.”
The local hub in central Scotland would utilise existing pipelines and offshore infrastructure, which wouldn’t have to be decommissioned once not in use by the oil and gas industry.
“A critical point is that while re-evaluation and consideration of CCS options is underway, it is essential that no decommissioning of potentially relevant pipelines, boreholes or offshore facilities is agreed by the UK Government or the Oil & Gas Authority,” Haszeldine said.
Eventually, large storage sites would be established further in the central North Sea, where liquefied carbon dioxide would be stored permanently in undersea rocks. The area, the proponents say, is accessible from major European ports including Hamburg, Rotterdam or Antwerp, from where the liquefied carbon dioxide could be shipped without the necessity to build new pipelines.
The step by step approach is key for the affordability of the development.
The carbon dioxide handled by the prospective hub could also be used for CO2-enhanced oil recovery to maximise economic benefits.