Scotland has a distinct advantage when it comes to progressing carbon capture, utilisation and storage. Much of the infrastructure that’s needed is already in place. The sub-sea pipeline that will transport the CO2 from St Fergus to the offshore storage site, for example, was used – until just a few years ago – to transport natural gas ashore from the North Sea. Extensive studies have shown that the pipeline can be easily and cost-effectively repurposed to transport the captured CO2 offshore. Smart use of these legacy oil and gas assets can provide cost savings of around £750m.
It isn’t just the cost-reduction that makes the programme attractive. With pipelines already in place across Scotland and out into the North Sea, the time taken to build and test the infrastructure is dramatically reduced. This is why the Acorn project can be operational by 2024 and the NECCUS programme can be scaled-up across the UK and Europe by the end of the decade.
It makes good environmental sense too. Using pipelines that are already in place doesn’t require emissions from carbon intensive industries such as steel production.