Storegga Discusses Government Approval for Acorn CCS Project, Paving the Way for Real Progress
Posted 01/08/2023 12:29
The backers of the Acorn carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in the north-east of Scotland are thrilled after the UK government officially selected it as one of the first four carbon capture clusters in the country. The Acorn project, based at St Fergus near Peterhead, will play a crucial role in capturing and storing industrial emissions from the central belt to the north-east in depleted oil and gas reservoirs offshore. It is part of the Scottish Cluster, a consortium of major industrial groups working towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2045 through CCS capacity and hydrogen supplies.
Acorn, whose backers include Shell and Harbour Energy and North Sea Midstream Partners, had initially aimed for first CO2 injection by 2026, but delays since the initial Track 1 process have cast doubt over that timeline. However, the recent approval announcement as part of the £1 billion Track 2 process is considered a significant milestone for the scheme.
Nick Cooper, the CEO of Acorn developer Storegga, expressed delight and relief, emphasizing that some team members have been working on achieving CCS for Scotland since 2007. He pointed out that discussions with the government would take place this week to finalize the support package details.
Storegga believes Acorn's initial capacity of five million tonnes of CO2 per year could be expanded to 20 or even 40 million tonnes in the future, depending on demand. The project has the potential to significantly contribute to Europe and the world's need for gigatonnes of CO2 storage.
The approval for the Acorn CCS project also unlocks plans for producing blue hydrogen at St Fergus, subject to government approval of hydrogen business models and coordination with other Scottish Cluster members. Cooper expressed excitement about the project's prospects, stating that it will create jobs, future-proof existing facilities, and help Scotland achieve its net-zero targets.
Looking to the longer term, Storegga has said that Acorn’s initial five million tonnes of capacity could be ramped up to 20 million, even 40 million tonnes in later decades. Mr Cooper is still optimistic on this potential – provided demand for storage continues.
"Each well is going to be able to store 1-1.5 million tonnes. It’s a function of the number of wells and the number of pipelines you repurpose that defines this, but we would expect the first pipeline to take approximately 5 million tonnes and to be ramping up through that by the back end of the decade."
With the green light from the government, Acorn can now proceed with mobilizing substantial investments and thousands of jobs involved in the project. This approval marks a significant step forward for Scotland and the north-east, bringing clarity and support from both public and private sectors to achieve the goals of a sustainable and low-carbon future.
Mr Cooper also highlighted that Acorn’s initial five million tonnes of capacity could be ramped up to 20 million, even 40 million tonnes in later decades, provided there is sufficient demand for storage.
"This green light means we know that we can just get on with it now."