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News that the Acorn carbon-capture and storage (CCS) development at St Fergus is edging closer to reality has been widely welcomed.
There was a positive update in yesterday’s energy-security plan on the possibility of Track 2 funding for the north-east scheme.
The Scottish Cluster decarbonisation initiative, which could deliver more than 20,000 jobs, is led by Acorn and comprises a cross-sector group of Scottish industrial CO2 emitters.
The UK Government has now confirmed that Acorn is a leading contender for development in the Track 2 funding round.
Acorn missed out on Track 1 funding in 2021, and has long been considered a front runner for Track 2. The government says Acorn is one of the two best placed for this funding.
Backers of the Cluster, including Storegga, Shell and SSE, said confirmation of Track 2 status would bring “much-needed investor confidence” and support the development of various projects across Scotland.
This 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).
Storegga chief executive Nick Cooper told Energy Voice: “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.
“We support the government’s drive to move this forward as quickly as possible now.
“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 the announcement was “a step in the right direction” for the UK’s path to net zero.
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.”
A deadline for Track 2 bids has been set for April 28. However, there is no detail yet on when an actual selection will officially be made and funding allocated.
Professor Stuart Haszeldine, chairman of CCS at the University of Edinburgh, told Energy Voice that, once the 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 US, 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.