With Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) one of the discussion themes at ONS this week, the Norwegians will be looking to showcase their planned new CO2 capture plant at the Mongstad refinery. The initial pilot technology centre is expected to be in operation by 2011/12 and eventually the plant will have an annual capacity for handling 100,000 tonnes of carbon per annum.
But even among the reputedly more technologically advanced countries in northern Europe, progress is slow. Significant delays to Mongstad have been announced this year. In May the Norwegian Government, which retains CCS as a central plank of its energy and climate change policy, declared its intention to delay development of the plant to allow more time to test the new technology.
this suggests that a number of key issues remain unresolved, including storage techniques and, of course, reducing the current cost of technology.
Work continues in the UK to resolve these issues and a number of companies are keen to steal the march. They are supported by the UK Government. This year’s Energy Act delivered a financial incentive for four commercial scale demonstration projects, and to support the retrofit of additional CCS capacity.
In the last few months we’ve also seen the new Office for CCS (OCCS) established by DECC and the publication of a Government strategy stating that the industry could generate upwards of £3 billion a year for the economy by 2030, sustaining up to 100,000 jobs.
There is no doubt ONS will be buzzing with exciting chatter about developing technologies in CCS. But who will be the first to benefit economically from this sector is yet to become clear. There is no reason why it can’t be the UK and companies in the north east in particular. Our oil industry gives us the skills base, and we have a number of potential storage reservoirs off the Scottish coast.