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Backers of the Scottish Cluster and the north-east’s Acorn carbon capture project welcomed news that the scheme is a frontrunner for the government’s Track 2 funding process.
The government confirmed on Thursday it has launched its “Track 2” process to back CCS clusters across the UK and noted that Acorn “is one of the two best placed” for funding.
Based at St Fergus in Aberdeenshire, Acorn missed out on “Track 1” funding in 2021 – part of a £1bn package to get the first two clusters up and running in the coming years – leaving the progress of the nationwide Scottish Cluster in limbo.
Backers of the Cluster, including the likes of Storegga, Shell and SSE, said confirmation of its Track 2 status would bring “much-needed investor confidence” and support the development of various projects across Scotland.
That includes initiatives such as SSE and Equinor’s Peterhead CCS power station, a blue hydrogen plant supplying INEOS and Petroineos sites at Grangemouth, and ExxonMobil and Shell’s facilities at Mossmorran – as well as efforts by Acorn partners including lead developer Storegga, technical developer Shell, Harbour Energy and North Sea Midstream Partners (NSMP).
‘Step in the right direction’
“We welcome Government’s recognition of Acorn as one of two projects already seen as best able to meet the Track-2 eligibility criteria and ready to deliver on the Government’s objectives for Track-2,” said Storegga chief executive Nick Cooper.
“We support the Government’s drive to move this forward as quickly as possible now, in order to reach the target of 20-30Mt CO2 captured and stored pa by 2030. Acorn, as the reserve cluster, is ready to step up as soon as the Government asks us to do so.”
NSMP boss Sayma Cox said Thursday’s announcement was “a step in the right direction” for the UK’s path to net zero.
“We are very pleased that the UK Government are moving ahead with the Track 2 sequencing process and that the Acorn Project is considered a strong contender in the process which is essential to the decarbonisation of the UK industrial sector.”
Simon Roddy, Senior Vice President of Shell’s UK Upstream business, added: “We welcome the launch of Track 2 and the Government’s positive commitment to developing CCS as a key element of the energy transition.
“Shell is the technical developer of the Acorn Project, which is central to the Scottish Cluster providing the route to the decarbonisation of Scottish and UK industry.”
Alongside Acorn “as a leading contender” is Harbour Energy’s Viking CCS project in the Humber.
A deadline for the Track 2 bids has been set for April 28.
However, plans announced so far have provided no detail on when an actual selection will officially be made and funding allocated.
Professor Stuart Haszledine, chairman of carbon capture and storage at the University of Edinburgh said the that once government has selected its Track 2 candidates, it must also accelerate their development much faster than Track 1, given investors have been designing schemes since 2015, and have now put them on hold since 2021.
“Attractive CCS opportunities are emerging globally in the USA, Denmark and Norway. The UK is now in a race to keep the best global talent and to grow project numbers fast enough to create world leading industries which can design and supply this new immense offshore opportunity globally,” he added.
Alliance group NECCUS last week launched a Scottish Net Zero Roadmap (SNZR) which called for up to £9bn of investment, including in Acorn, to help deliver decarbonisation projects industrial sectors and support Scotland’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2045.