The UK could become a world leader in carbon capture and storage (CCS), with the North Sea potentially able to store hundreds of years worth of carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new study.
The study was funded in part by ScottishPower, which is among the companies in the UK Government’s competition to develop the UK’s first commercial scale CCS project. It assessed potential carbon storage sites in a section of the North Sea, and identified a number of promising locations in saline aquifers beneath the seabed and in depleted oil and gas fields.
Saline aquifers are porous rock formations filled with high concentration salt water. They are covered by a thick layer of impermeable cap-rock that CCS proponents say will keep liquefied carbon dioxide in place.
Depleted oil and gas fields in the central North Sea could serve the same purpose, according to the study.
“Today’s report means that CCS technology is one step closer to moving from the laboratory into reality and within the next five years, ScottishPower could have a full-scale demonstration project working at Longannet, utilising these Central North Sea resources to store CO2,” said Frank Mitchell, generation director at ScottishPower.
Mitchell added, “Our plans at Longannet involve retrofitting CCS technology to the existing power station by 2014. A retrofit option is essential to enable the technology to be implemented globally, addressing the carbon lock in from over 50,000 fossil fuel power stations in operation throughout the world. We believe the UK can lead the world with this technology, creating new skills, jobs and opportunities for growth.”