ACORN - A North East Response to Evolve and Thrive Through Decarbonisation

Mackinnon, David (TOTAL E&P UK) | Gomersall, Sam (Pale Blue Dot Energy)

OnePetro 

Abstract

We all identify the need to integrate climate change into corporate strategy, with a profitable Carbon Capture Utilisation & Storage (CCUS) business model the elusive goal. Today, CCUS forms 10% of the R&D program of Total, a founding contributor to the OGCI Climate Investments fund. Here in the North East of Scotland, UK and Scottish Governments, along with project developer Pale Blue Dot Energy and Total are providing match funding to the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facilities fund to progress feasibility work on the Acorn CCS project. As society continues to drive an expectation beyond hydrocarbons, what proposal might the North East of Scotland offer in response?

To meet ambitious emissions reduction targets, the UK must envisage radical changes to the energy economy. Already affecting power generation, these changes must drive further into transport and domestic/industrial energy consumption. Two technologies which may play a part in the decarbonisation of the UK energy business are CCUS and the use of Hydrogen as an energy carrier and energy store, with several studies showing that clean hydrogen is potentially the lowest cost route to meeting UK emission targets in multiple sectors. This builds on the UK’s world class gas network infrastructure, which can be repurposed to avoid becoming stranded, avoiding the enormous expense of increasing the capacity of the electricity transmission network, much of which would lie idle during the summer. The UK gas network carries approximately three times more energy than the electricity network, at one third the unit cost to consumers, and meets winter peaks that are five times greater.

Different to previous CCUS projects, and having the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA)’s first carbon dioxide appraisal and storage licence award, ACORN is an opportunity to evaluate a brownfield CCUS solution to capture, transport and store post-combustion CO2, combined with an upside through emerging pre-combustion CO2 capture technology relating to the production and sale of bulk hydrogen produced from natural gas with a zero-emission target. Located at the St Fergus Gas Terminal – an active industrial site where around 35% of all the natural gas used in the UK comes onshore. ACORN is designed as a "low-cost", "low-risk" CCUS project, to be built quickly, taking advantage of existing oil and gas infrastructure and well understood offshore storage sites. The Acorn Hydrogen project undertakes to evaluate and develop an advanced reformation process which will deliver the most energy and cost-efficient industrial hydrogen production process whilst capturing and sequestering CO2 emissions. An initial phase offers a full-chain demonstration project, an essential step toward commissioning the concept and subsequent commercialisation of large-scale CCUS and Hydrogen deployment in the UK.

SPE Offshore Europe represents an ideal opportunity to update both the region and industry on results, observations, and conclusions with respect to the evolving development architecture, selected process technologies, Government and gas transportation regulatory engagement as this, the leading Scottish CCS project continues its journey toward a final investment decision.