North Sea one of world’s best sites for carbon capture, study reveals

Peterhead Power Station
Peterhead Power Station

The North Sea is one of the “best places in the world” to develop a low-carbon technology which could slash £82 a year from family power bills, a new study has found.

Depleted offshore oil and gas fields could help turn the UK into a “leading global player” in carbon capture and storage (CCS), the report said, with the sector potentially worth up to £35billion to the economy.

Consumers would reap the benefit from a potential 15% reduction in wholesale electricity prices through the technology, according to findings outlined today by the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA) and Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The study also highlighted opportunities to prolong the life of existing North Sea oil and gas assets, and to transfer offshore engineering skills to CCS.

The technology involves capturing harmful CO2 emissions before they enter the atmosphere, and then storing them underground.

It is viewed as a vital tool in the effort to meet global emissions targets, and could create thousands of jobs as new schemes are developed. Oil giant Shell is drawing up plans to create the world’s first full-scale CCS project at a gas-fired power station in Peterhead, while other UK projects have also proposed storing the CO2 in North Sea reservoirs.

The report yesterday makes several recommendations to ensure the potential of CCS can be realised, calling on the UK Government to show “long term vision”.

TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “This is a great opportunity to re-invigorate our manufacturing sector and bring new research and development, design and construction jobs to areas like Yorkshire, the north-east and Scotland.

“Our depleted North Sea gas and oilfields make the UK one of the best areas in the world to exploit CCS technology.

“But without stronger government backing the UK risks losing its competitive advantage and all the jobs and economic activity that CCS could bring.”

CCSA chief executive, Luke Warren, said: “We have gone further in this report to show that the cost savings from CCS have a real impact on the average UK household, increasing their disposable income and reducing the risk of fuel poverty.

“The UK is one of the best places in the world to develop CCS.

“We have abundant storage capacity in the North Sea, a world class oil and gas industry with the right skills for CCS, and existing infrastructure that can be re-used.”