A newly completed Feasibility Report has confirmed that natural gas with carbon capture can be delivered competitively against other alternatives, paving the way for flexible clean electricity generation that can help integrate into the power grid the UK’s growing number of wind and solar projects, while also creating a new CO2 capture industry.

This is according to Seattle-based energy development company Summit Power who undertook the study over a two-year period. The study concluded that a natural gas power plant with CO2 capture, using existing commercial technology, is both technically and financially feasible, and can be delivered in the early 2020s to ensure that the UK power grid remains stable as unabated fossil fuels are phased out and renewable energy projects increase.

Stephen Kerr, Summit Caledonia Project Director said, “It’s clear there can’t be any more unabated gas in the UK if we hope to meet climate targets. It’s also clear that we need the flexibility and resilience that the Caledonia plant offers and which can be delivered at a much lower cost than previously thought possible.”

The Caledonia Clean Energy Project (CCEP) will be located near Grangemouth on the Firth of Forth in Scotland. However, the CCEP power plant design can now be deployed anywhere in the world as a valuable new project type. Captured CO2 will be transported via largely existing onshore and offshore pipelines, previously used to transport natural gas, to a deep and secure geological storage site thousands of metres below the North Sea.

CCEP Project Director Stephen Kerr added, “The existing pipeline system that can transport CO2 to the North Sea gives Scotland a tremendous cost advantage. It’s important that we seize this opportunity whilst the pipelines still exist.”

CCEP will capture and geologically sequester up to three million tonnes of CO2 per year while providing up to 1,300 MW of firm capacity to the power grid, along with other services such as voltage and frequency support, and so-called “black start” capability for the entire Scottish grid in the event of a system-wide blackout, a pressing requirement following the closure of several coal power plants in Scotland.

A real breakthrough is that CCEP will be able to ramp its power output up and down while still efficiently capturing its CO2 emissions. Previously, CO2 capture from natural gas plants was considered to require steady state operation. Ramping CCEP’s power output, whilst also providing resilience, means the power grid will be able to handle more renewable energy from intermittent sources such as onshore and offshore wind and solar projects.

The Feasibility Report examines additional options for CCEP as well. An exciting potential opportunity at the Scottish site is to add on a promising new type of natural gas plant with CO2 capture using the Allam Cycle, developed by Net Power.

It also highlights a realistic opportunity to develop a low carbon cluster around Grangemouth, combining the low carbon CCEP power plant as an “anchor” tenant with industrial CO2 capture from Scotland’s major emitters in the area. Other industrial emitters of CO2 along the east coast could also capture their CO2 as a pipeline network evolves. Nearly 80% percent of Scotland’s industrial CO2 emission sources are close to the main pipeline that would transport CO2 away from CCEP. Development of a CO2 transport and storage network will also enable clean Hydrogen production in the longer term for heat and transport fuel.

The next step is for UK policymakers and industry to work together to prepare a CCUS Deployment Pathway before the end of 2018. Like other UK power projects, CCEP will ultimately be financed with non-governmental debt and equity investment on the strength of a Contract for Difference (CfD), which will determine the price CCEP ultimately receives for its power. CCEP is the only Scottish CCS project seeking a CfD.

The Feasibility Report was funded by CCEP’s developer with significant grant support from Scottish Government and the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The final Report has been delivered to Scottish Government and BEIS, and summaries will be available on Summit Power and CCSA websites.