Shell and National Grid join ScottishPower and Aker

1 September 2009

Shell and National Grid are joining ScottishPower’s carbon capture and storage consortium – one of three contenders in the UK’s CCS competition. The consortium is developing a CCS scheme for the Longannet coal-fired power station, using Aker Clean Carbon’s amine based scrubbing technology.

Shell brings its experience of working offshore in North Sea oil and gas fields while National Grid, as owner and operator of the UK’s gas pipeline system, has expertise in high-pressure pipelines, with the possibility that existing National Grid natural gas transmission pipelines may be used for CO2 transportation to depleted fields.

In May Aker’s mobile carbon capture prototype test unit was put into operation at Longannet, understood to be the first time CO2 emissions have been extracted from a working coal-fired power plant in the UK. The mobile unit is a small-scale replica of a carbon capture plant.

ScottishPower’s parent company, Iberdrola, confirmed that it will establish its CCS global centre of excellence in the UK and, as part of this initiative, will be funding a chair in carbon capture and storage at the University of Edinburgh.

Also in the running for the UK competition are an E.On-led consortium (with Fluor, MHI, Penspen and Tullow) developing CCS for the proposed Kingsnorth coal plant and a joint venture called Peel Energy CCS, in which RWE, Peel Energy and Dong are stakeholders.

At the end of last year RWE took a 75% stake in the entity, which was originally established by Peel and Dong with the aim of developing CCS for a 2x800 coal plant Peel is planning at Hunterston.

The stake in Peel Energy CCS provided a way for RWE to get back into the UK CCS competition following its surprising (and still not fully explained) failure to be shortlisted in March last year (the decision prompted the utility to seek a judicial review, but this was abandoned). The capture technology supplier for the new consortium has not been publicly announced (RWE’s original competition consortium had Cansolv (now, somewhat intriguingly, owned by Shell) in this role. An interesting indicator may be RWE’s choice of capture technology partner for its planned 3 MW CCS pilot at Aberthaw, to be announced very shortly, when the planning application goes in.

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