The Acorn project, a small-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in North-East Scotland, has reached another milestone this week with support from the EU funding round, Advancing CCS Technologies (ACT), a part of the ERA-NET programme.

The project, being developed by CO2DeepStore, has been approved for funding under the programme to progress feasibility studies in 2017 and 2018. Pale Blue Dot Energy (PBD), UK based management consultancy focused on the low carbon energy transition, is leading the ACT study consortium which also includes Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage, Bellona, Liverpool University and Radboud University.

The high cost of earlier large scale proposed projects has so far prevented the UK from initiating CCS.

Acorn provides a low-cost entry point for CCS in the UK, by enabling a small-scale project, from which an extensive CCS network could be developed. The project will capture industrial carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the St Fergus gas processing plant and transport it for permanent storage deep beneath the North Sea, using existing redundant oil and gas infrastructure which is currently under threat of decommissioning. St Fergus will be a future hub for CCS, its multiple pipelines taking CO2 by pipeline from Central Scotland and CO2 shipping import via Peterhead Harbour to North Sea storage sites.

Alan James, Manging director of PBD, said, “This is a significant endorsement for this innovative project, the benefits of which have been seen by the nine EU member states involved in the evaluation. We look forward to progressing the feasibility phase and working with stakeholders to move the project towards development.”

Professor Stuart Haszeldine, SCCS Director, said, “Funding for the Acorn CCS project is an important first step towards decarbonising industry in Scotland as part of the UK’s overall efforts. Several years of work, by SCCS, PBD and others, have confirmed the benefits of re-using legacy engineering equipment, pipelines and well-understood geological storage. This has already been evaluated with £100m ($129m) of public funding. In all of Europe, North-East Scotland is the location where CCS can be built most rapidly, with low-cost CO2 transport and very secure storage sites. Acorn also lights a path to sustainable offshore engineering and employment for many decades into the future. Becoming a careful early mover in this new industry can help us win a place in the business of CO2 storage for the UK and mainland Europe.”