Arup to support commercial test of CCS technology in the UK

04 May 2016

Summit Power Caledonia UK has hired Arup to provide a range of support activities for the test run of CCS technology at the new Caledonia Clean Energy Project in Scotland. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is one technological solution offered to combat climate change, as new clean energy solutions are critical to meet the urgent climate standard set at the COP1 Conference. The technology remains unproven, however, and serious questions about its economic viability to meet time-sensitive global targets have been raised.

The world has a problem; climate change is scientifically, and, more recently, politically recognised as an issue requiring serious and sustained attention. Following the COP21 conference, a pledge was made to limit global average temperature rise to well below 2.0°C above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to keep it under 1.5°C.

However, meeting, and even surpassing, the target level of warming limitation will be no easy task. As it stands, a range of models have been developed which highlight that particularly polluting forms of energy generation need to be retired – not expanded – for the target to be met. One particularly polluting form of energy generation is the coal-fired power plant. To stand a chance of reaching the target, this form of energy generation needs to either be phased out or have its carbon emission contribution be almost completely inhibited.

The International Energy Association cites that the only way for coal-fired power plants to remain viable within the limits of the global commitment, the carbon produced by the plants would need to be radically reduced. One form is reduction in high-efficient low-emission (HELE) coal-fired power plants, however, a recent report highlights that this technology is incompatible with the goal to keep temperature rise under 2.0°C.

Another option is the capture of all carbon emissions from the combustion process in industry and electricity producing processes, which are then safely stored. The feasibility of equipping polluting energy generation assets with this Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology, and which remain cost effective in relation to other forms of generation, is an open and pressing question. As it stands, the technology is by no means proven - even in specific contexts in which few barriers exist.

One player within the CCS market is Summit Power Caledonia UK. The company, which has operated since 1980, seeks to develop clean energy technologies for a wide range of markets and players, including carbon capture and enhanced oil recovery (EOR), high-efficiency natural gas-fired projects, utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) solar energy projects, as well as large wind projects. One of its major projects is the Caledonia Clean Energy Project, which aims to take emissions from the new Caledonia Power Plant and sequester them in a dedicated geological storage, of lower cretaceous sandstone (Captain Formation), at a depth of approximately 1,500-2,000 metres. The gas will be transported through a CO2 network between Grangemouth and the offshore storage site in the North Sea, which is off the Scottish shore. The project involves the use of existing pipeline infrastructure re-purposed for CO2 transportation. The project is set to begin operation in 2022, and has a lifespan of 30 years.

Summit Power Caledonia UK has hired Arup to provide a range of services for the project, including advising on the planning and environmental requirements, as well as considering potential constraints that will impact the project’s feasibility. Arup is set to provide environmental risk assessments including air quality, ecological receptors, cooling water options, feedstock delivery as well as landscape and visual impacts.

Stephen Kerr, Caledonia Clean Energy Project Director, Summit, says that the firm is “pleased to appoint Arup”, on the basis of their wide and deep energy sector knowledge and the local expertise of their team in Scotland. Kerr adds “they will contribute to demonstrating how the Caledonia Clean Energy Project can deliver extremely low carbon generation at an affordable cost in the UK while delivering a step-change reduction in Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

Clare Lavelle, Head of Energy Consultancy, Arup, says “CCS technology is a critical technology in enabling Scotland and the UK to achieve secure, affordable and low carbon electricity generation. We are delighted to work on behalf of Summit on a project that is essential to demonstrating the viability of the Scottish and UK Carbon Capture sector. Our technical expertise comes from working across the energy sectors in thermal and renewable generation as well as supporting offshore projects in the North Sea allowing us to provide the best possible advice for Summit – we look forward to the next stages of the project.”


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How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.