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A decision was yesterday announced by the UK Government not to proceed with its first CCS demonstration competition at Longannet. The funds will now be made available for subsequent projects instead. The project had been under some scrutiny in recent weeks as the tense negotiations for the funding of the first project drew towards a conclusion. The CCS Project Network had been hopeful that the Longannet Consortium, which has been discussing membership of the Network, would be able to take the project to completion. Unfortunately, the parties were not able to reach a satisfactory deal for this project.
In terms of knowledge sharing, however, the story does not end there – far from it. As announced on the website of the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), all findings gained through the Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) studies that it has financed over the last 18 months will be published and made freely available online. In addition to the study for the Longannet project, E.ON’s early-stage work on their Kingsnorth project, which pulled out of the competition in 2010, has been released in accordance with the terms of the competition. This is a very positive result.
The release of these two studies marks a major milestone for CCS demonstration. It is the first time that the detailed engineering knowledge gained by project developers as a result of public support has been released. Knowledge sharing is about making sure that the important lessons learned when the first-mover projects break new ground is fed back to help us understand the potential of CCS. It is in the interest of all to move forward as quickly as possible with the latest facts to back up decisions without compromising the incentives for companies to explore and advance new technologies and storage sites. The European Commission established the CCS Project Network to facilitate this process and manage the flows of new information, of which these thorough reports are a great example.
The UK’s approach makes it a world leader. The value of the taxpayer-sponsored FEED information is not lost or locked up, but is available to educate other projects and help them direct resources efficiently. The knowledge is highly project-specific but it provides confidence that an operational CCS chain is technically feasible in the timeframe needed for UK, European and international climate policy.
The amount of information that we have seen so far looks pretty overwhelming. But it is with great pleasure that the CCS Project Network will be partnering with DECC to ensure that the key outcomes of this impressive body of work are understood and communicated to those who can use them and build on them. The two studies are broken into chapters according to topics including designs, costs, schedules, full chain integration, risks, permitting, and health and safety. Within these chapters are the relevant pdf documents, some 307 in all. They indicate the importance of the FEED process and to clarify and narrow risks associated with project costs, project schedules and the anticipated performance of various aspects of the CCS chain. They also identify the scale and nature of challenges arising from pulling together an end-to-end chain and the ways in which these challenges can be addressed. This information will undoubtedly be of use to the members of the CCS Project Network, and to projects around the world, and it will be a challenge, as well as a privilege to extract, analyse and compare these messages with the experiences of other major demonstration projects in Europe.
Longannet Report elements:
Kingsnorth report elements:
It has not yet been possible to review all the data contained in these reports, but it is clear that the UK Government has stepped up our understanding of CCS demonstration in Europe, and is raising the bar in terms of knowledge sharing. Our next step is to identify how the CCS Project Network can best capitalise on the opportunities presented by the release of these UK studies.
For questions and comments on the FEED studies a feedback comments page has been set up at http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/emissions/ccs/demo_prog/feed/feed.aspx. For suggestions on how the CCS Project Network can utilise the information, we’d welcome your comments below.
This post expresses the views of this author and not necessarily of their organisation or the Global CCS Institute.