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Carbon capture and storage on track for full scale scheme in 2030

A number of key SNP members have been vocal in their criticism of George Osborne's decision to axe the £1billion CCS fund, for which Peterhead was a front runner
A number of key SNP members have been vocal in their criticism of George Osborne's decision to axe the £1billion CCS fund, for which Peterhead was a front runner

Carbon capture and storage is back on track for a full-scale scheme to open in the 2030s, according to the UK Government.

The north-east was dealt a major blow when £1 billion plans for a carbon capture & storage (CCS) plant at Peterhead were dumped by then-Chancellor George Osborne in 2015.

Now, plans for another north-east CCS scheme, the Acorn Project at St Fergus, are looking like they could flourish.

The announcement of a major industry report being launched next month was made at the Carbon Capture & Storage Association (CCSA) President’s reception at Westminster yesterday (WED).

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) CCS director Ashley Ibbett announced the CCS cross-challenge taskforce report will be published next month.

The report is all about the stepping stones to achieving cost-effective CCS and is based on evidence from CCS experts, including those at the Acorn project.

Mr Ibbett also confirmed Scottish companies were involved in plans to launch full-scale CCS projects in the 2030s.

"We need CCS deployed cost-effectively and on a large scale," he said. "Scotland recognises this value and Scottish companies are testing how CCS can support existing industry.

"Next year the CCS cross challenge taskforce will be published and, by the end of the year, we plan to respond to the taskforce and set out steps to realise our ambition to develop CCS at scale during the 2030s."

The Acorn project, run by Pale Blue Dot Energy, now hopes to get 1/4 billion government funding to launch a medium-sized CCS project at St Fergus in 2023, which could be scaled up to hit the government's planned timescale.

Pale Blue Dot finance director Stephen Murray said he was "cautiously optimistic" about government support for the company's current feasibility study growing in future.

He said: "In order to be operating at scale by 2030, they need to have done a number of things in the 2020s, such as Acorn.

"Our model is very low regret because we have very low expansion costs. We need 1/4 billion, which is a fraction of the Peterhead cost, and if the government decided it didn't like it, the cost of shutting it down would be very modest.

"What we're missing at the moment is simply a revenue model, such as the feed-in tariffs we had for wind and solar. That piece is missing.

"However, the minister is hugely supportive so the sector is feeling a little bit more buoyant and we are cautiously optimistic."

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