In the UK’s race towards net-zero emissions, a gas-fired power station could hold the key to the nation becoming a world-leader in carbon capture storage technology.
The Keadby 3 gas-fired power station in Lincolnshire, in the east of England, is on track to become the UK’s first plant equipped with CCS technology enabling it to store carbon dioxide in former gas and oil wells under the sea.
As the only CCS project in the UK to have planning permission, Keadby 3 could offset at least 1.5 megatonnes of carbon dioxide – 15 per cent of the government’s 2030 target.
On Thursday the government is set to unveil a package of green measures to reach its target of net-zero emissions by 2050.
It is expected to include £20 billion ($24.66 billion) of funding over the next decade for six CCS initiatives – and Keadby 3 could be one of its flagship projects.
Helen Sanders, head of policy and sustainability at SSE Thermal, the company behind Keadby 3, believes the government’s announcement will be historic.
“It is a real opportunity for the UK to be a world leader. This is a real moment in time,” Ms Sanders told The National.
“The government outlined £20 billion of investment in the budget recently for CCS. It was a massive step and recognition of the role this technology can bring.
“Previously they were looking at £1 billion in investment and the increase in the magnitude of it is a good thing to see.
“Across the UK there is a significant amount of CO2 storage potential. We have 70 billion tonnes of storage. It is a pretty amazing opportunity. It will be piped in and stays there and will never leak.
“We think following our costing of the modelling that we have done that it is a cost-effective way to decarbonise.”
It is believed the UK could store all of its historic emissions in decommissioned wells, and if selected by the government, Keadby 3 will lead the way.
“Keadby could be the UK’s first gas fired power station with a CCS plant attached to it which will be able to capture and store between 90 and 95 per cent of emissions,” Ms Sanders said.
“The big question is why we would need the power station when we have wind and solar power, but the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun does not always shine.
“This is a traditional power station that can be turned on and off for the market’s needs. Realistically we need a mix of everything.”
With an electrical output of up to 910MW, Keadby 3 Carbon Capture Power Station will use natural gas and will include a carbon capture plant.
SSE is also looking at CCS for its other gas-fired power plants and has submitted planning permission for its site in Peterhead, Scotland.
It is already looking at hydrogen-powered electricity plants.
“The Keadby site has had power generation for 70 years. There is still gas there. Next CCS and we are looking at hydrogen,” Ms Sanders said.
“We have other power stations across the UK and Ireland and we are looking at the best route forward, hydrogen or CCS and at the location and access to CO2 storage. This is not just a flash in the pan.”
The UK’s Energy and Net-zero Secretary, Grant Shapps, will unveil his CCS plans this week, along with a timeline for the approval of carbon-capture programmes in Scotland.
It comes after US President Joe Biden announced a $369 billion clean energy strategy.
The UK’s Finance Minister, Jeremy Hunt, has described the American announcement as a “very real competitive threat”.
“The Energy Secretary will announce an ambitious, positive and practical set of plans for securing the nation’s energy security and reaching net zero by 2050,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said on Tuesday.
The UK government wants a quarter of the country’s electricity to be provided by nuclear power by 2050.
It has committed £700 million to build the Sizewell C nuclear plant in the east of England.