Teeside Collective Investigates Carbon Capture Project

           Carbon and Climate

A collective of industrial businesses in the Tees Valley has issued a tender for the design of a carbon capture unit for one of its companies, together with a business case for selling the captured CO2 to industries that use CO2 in their products. Lotte Chemicals manufactures the polymer resin PET, which is used to make soft drinks bottles, and as a by-product of the process, the factory emits 55,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum. The idea is to capture 90% of these emissions and to establish a demonstration centre so that the resulting technology can be adopted and scaled up for other industries.

While the proposed project is on a much smaller scale than the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) that would be used for power generation plants, where millions of tonnes of CO2 would be captured and stored, the industrial project would give some direction for carbon capture technology, which stakeholders have been calling for since the government abolished a CCS competition in November 2015. Last month, Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, called for the CCS industry to be released from its current state of “abeyance” by the end of this year.

Announcements on UK energy and climate change policy are expected in the autumn, and with a recent change of Prime Minister and the creation of a new Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the direction is uncertain. If there is a move away from new nuclear, it is likely to result in greater reliance on gas-fired generation, even if there is an increased focus on renewables. This would mean that the UK’s decarbonisation target of a 57% reduction in emissions by 2032 (against 1990 levels) would become a much tougher challenge. The successful implementation of CCS could contribute to meeting these climate change targets by removing emissions from both industry and, on a larger scale, power generation.

Sarah Tennison of Tees Valley Unlimited said, “There is a need for a national strategy because we need to move forward following the cancellation of the competition. CCS is still needed; I think everybody agrees from the Committee on Climate Change to the International Energy Agency.”

The Teeside Collective has also recently announced that it is working with Edinburgh University to investigate the best approach to capturing CO2 from a biomass plant on the Sembcorp Utilities site in Wilton.

Both CCS and battery storage are technologies that could potentially form a vital part of a new long-term energy policy. Focus is increasingly turning to battery storage, the widescale deployment of which could solve the problem of intermittency that accompanies renewables generation. For example, electricity generated from solar PV at times of peak sunlight could be stored for use in the evening. The US government is currently funding 75 battery development projects with the aim of both improving the technology and bringing down costs. Encouragingly, organic flow batteries are being tested, which replace the use of rare metals with organic materials.

Overall, decarbonisation technologies should benefit from the formation of the new UK government department for BEIS, which intends to take a joined-up approach and so both the development of technologies and their implementation can be supported, with a joint aim of supporting industry and climate change targets. However, much will depend on energy and climate change policy announcements this autumn and the direction those will take.

Nikki Wilson

Nikki joined Alfa Energy in September 2015 as a Carbon Management Consultant where she advises clients on legislation, compliance, and the implementation of carbon management schemes. She is a Practitioner member of IEMA, has a postgraduate diploma in Environmental Decision Making, and has over 15 years’ experience in energy consultancy.