CCS clears major hurdle

The Prime Minister has approved the Peterhead Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project for FEED (Front End Engineering and Design) funding.   Led by Shell, with our support, this world-first initiative now proceeds to the next phase of detailed engineering, planning and financial work to finalise and de-risk aspects of the proposal ahead of final investment decisions and procedure to construction.

Our Chief Executive and I, along with our generation colleagues at Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, met the Secretary of State for Energy, Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Scotland for a tour of operations on site showing where the project would eventually be located within the existing power station.  CCS would mean capturing around 90% (around 10 million tonnes) of the carbon dioxide at the existing gas fired plant from one turbine before transporting it and storing it beneath the North Sea. The CO2 would be captured, treated, dried and compressed at Peterhead before being exported via subsea pipeline to Shell’s depleted Goldeneye gas reservoir.

Our responsibility is to modify the power station to suit the CCS plant whilst the technical components of the project, including the capture and compression facilities on SSE’s site at Peterhead, will be developed by Shell.  While CCS is part of the long term vision for the Peterhead site we recently announced a complementary £15m investment at the station which will extend the life of the plant and allow it to operate more flexibly and efficiently in future years in response to the changing UK energy market.  This work will be completed by 2015.

The CCS ethos is a natural fit with SSE’s core value of being a responsible developer of energy assets.  It is also aligned with our long term priorities of energy sustainability and decarbonisation.  Although the Peterhead project faces a number of challenges before reaching construction phase, we share the government’s enthusiasm because of the impressive results yielded by the wealth of research undertaken worldwide to date.  There are also hugely encouraging outcomes from previous, smaller scale demonstration projects already completed such as the carbon capture pilot SSE was involved in at our Ferrybridge power station in Yorkshire.

Projects like these show there is a real future for CCS as a key component in minimising the impact of fossil fuel consumption by offering a practical solution for management of carbon emissions worldwide and the Peterhead CCS project is best placed to demonstrate this on a gas-fired station.

About the author

Paul Smith Managing Director, Generation

Paul Smith, Managing Director Generation, joined SSE in 1998. Paul is responsible for SSE’s Generation and Gas Storage Business. He is a member of SSE’s Management Board. The portfolio comprises over 11000MW of coal, gas, hydro, on and offshore wind generation as well as the largest onshore salt cavern storage in the UK. He is a director of a number of companies including Seabank, Marchwood and wind JVs. A Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, he worked in the Chemical Industry, both in the UK and overseas, for ICI and DuPont prior to joining SSE.

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