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Mon June 14 2021

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Plan unveiled for Scottish carbon-capture power station

11 May SSE Thermal and Equinor are joining forces to develop a power station equipped with carbon-capture technology.

The 900MW gas-fired Peterhead CCS Power Station in Scotland is to be fitted with carbon capture technology to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from its emissions. By capturing up to 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 each year, the new station alone would achieve 15% of the UK government’s target to capture 10MT of CO2 annually by 2030, said the developers.

As Scotland’s only major thermal power station, SSE Thermal’s existing Peterhead Power Station provides flexibility to the electricity system, supporting increased penetration from renewable generation while maintaining security of supply.

It could become one of the UK’s first power stations equipped with carbon-capture technology. This week’s announcement follows one in April, when SSE Thermal and Equinor said that they are co-developing two low-carbon power stations in Keadby, North Lincolnshire.

“Peterhead CCS Power Station, as a new decarbonised power station at the site, would continue to provide this essential flexible and efficient power in a net zero world,” said a statement from SSE.

SSE said that the Peterhead site in Aberdeenshire is ideally placed for carbon-capture technology, with access to essential CO2 transport and storage infrastructure being developed through the Acorn Project. The Acorn CO2 Storage Site, which will be used by the Acorn Project to store CO2, is located about 100km offshore in rock formations deep below the North Sea. Peterhead CCS Power Station and the Acorn Project both won funding from the UK government’s £171m pot for the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge Fund in March, as part of Scotland’s Net Zero Infrastructure programme.

SSE said that projects like Peterhead would stimulate the development of CO2 transport and storage infrastructure across Scotland, into which other energy and industrial emitters can then connect to capture and store their emissions. This will accelerate Scotland’s transition to a net zero economy, while safeguarding vital Scottish industries and ensuring a just transition for workers and communities, it said.

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The Peterhead CCS Power Station project is in the development stage and final investment decisions will depend on the progress of the necessary business models and associated infrastructure. With the appropriate policy mechanisms in place, the new station could come online by 2026.

Energy minister and the UK’s international champion on adaptation and resilience for COP26, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said: "Carbon capture storage technology is one of the most exciting and innovative ways that we’re looking to tackle climate change, and today’s announcement marks a significant step towards a greener, more sustainable future for Scotland and the whole UK. Once up and running, CO2 emissions saved through this station alone will be the equivalent of taking 60 million cars off the road every year. Developing and applying this technology in Scotland will be a key element in the energy transition whilst creating a skills base and jobs on the ground that will endure and grow for decades to come. The UK government has set out plans to work hand in hand with industrial areas and businesses to ensure they have the skills needed to lead the way."

UK government minister for Scotland David Duguid said: “Thanks to the UK government’s £31m investment into Scotland through the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge Fund, we’re enabling crucial projects like this one at Peterhead to play a huge part in our path to net zero. We are delighted to see this project move forward along with the Acorn CCS Project at St Fergus, which will connect industrial sites across East Scotland with access to world-class, safe carbon storage resources in rock deep below the North Sea. The work done here by SSE Thermal and Equinor underpins the UK government’s vision for sustaining industry, safeguarding jobs, and building back greener.”

Stephen Wheeler, managing director of SSE Thermal, said: “We’re delighted to announce this agreement with Equinor today to work together to decarbonise our power generation at Peterhead. Through cutting-edge carbon capture technology, we can decarbonise this vital flexible power generation, as well as heavy industry and other hard-to-reach-sectors of the economy, which will be crucial in Scotland transitioning to a net zero future. Ahead of the critical COP26 conference in Glasgow this year, there is a clear opportunity to demonstrate leadership on CCS, maximising the benefits of a green recovery in industrial regions, and ensuring a just transition for workers and communities.”

Grete Tveit, senior vice president for low carbon solutions at Equinor, said: “We are pleased to be joining SSE Thermal in the development of this world-leading plant at Peterhead. It is another important step in the energy partnership between Equinor and SSE. This power station is a milestone for Scotland’s ambitions to create a decarbonised industrial cluster. Projects such as these are critical for efforts to reach net zero, contributing to the UK’s goals to become a world leader in low carbon, and also helping ensure a just transition for industrial communities.”

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