Arup to support commercial test of CCS technology in the UK

04 May 2016 4 min. read
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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.”