- Energy regulator today launches industry consultation on the potential for future reuse of some natural gas pipelines in Scotland for carbon dioxide transportation as North Sea supplies decline
- Consultation part of National Grid’s work to explore the opportunities to apply its expertise and assets in the field of CCS
- A carbon dioxide network would make CCS more practical and economic than every power station building its own pipeline – CCS could mean a substantial reduction in emissions and help maintain security of supply
National Grid has today, Wednesday 8 April, welcomed the publication by energy regulator Ofgem of its industry consultation on National Grid’s proposal to investigate the possible future reuse of some of its natural gas transmission pipelines in Scotland, from 2013, for the transportation of carbon dioxide from power stations and heavy industry for storage offshore. This would require Ofgem consent.
Scotland, alongside the Humber region in England, offers some of the best opportunities for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in Europe, with power stations and other heavy industry close to the North Sea oil and gas fields that, when depleted, could provide storage for their carbon dioxide emissions. CCS networks in Scotland and Humberside could together result in a reduction of up to 78 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year (60 for Humberside and 18 for Scotland), equivalent to taking nearly all of Britain’s cars off the road.
Alongside this substantial reduction in emissions, CCS would also bring benefits to security of supply from allowing coal to remain part of a future diverse low carbon energy mix. Coal generation, with its flexible output, could play a valuable role in meeting the UK’s future energy requirements alongside a large proportion of intermittent wind generation and large but inflexible nuclear generators.
National Grid is investigating opportunities to apply its expertise in gas pipelines to CCS. Providing a network where clusters of power stations or other heavy industry adopting CCS use the same pipeline infrastructure would be much more practical and economic than the wasteful duplication of each building their own separate pipeline. National Grid has been in discussion with a number of parties pursuing an interest in CCS, although the details remain commercially confidential.
Ofgem’s consultation will allow an industry debate on the extent to which existing natural gas transmission pipelines could be reused for carbon dioxide transport. Declining supplies from the North Sea, and the changing shape overall of supplies to the UK mean that the natural gas capacity needed in certain parts of the system is expected to reduce over the next decade and beyond. In light of this, the pipelines connecting the St Fergus gas terminal on the coast of Scotland to the rest of the network have been identified as potentially available in future for carbon dioxide transportation. Reusing existing pipelines in this way would further reduce the costs of implementing CCS.
Chris Train, National Grid’s Director of Network Operations, said: “This consultation marks a step in carbon capture and storage moving from concept to reality. The world faces two vital challenges - fighting climate change and maintaining secure energy supplies. We need to address both together. Carbon capture and storage could play a significant role by allowing coal to remain part of our energy mix, with diversity of energy sources so important to security of supply, while at the same time allowing a substantial drop in emissions.
“Networks for CCS transportation make simple common sense compared to the lack of joined up thinking that would be inherent in each power station building their own pipelines independently. National Grid has a great wealth of experience that it could bring to bear here, whether that is building new carbon dioxide pipelines or reusing existing natural gas pipelines. It’s still early days, but we’re keen to investigate what we can contribute.”
The Ofgem consultation is available at http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Networks/Trans/GasTransPolicy/Pages/GasTransmissionPolicy.aspx.