Plans for gas power station with CCS will “delay move from fossil fuels”, say campaigners

Plans for what could be one of the UK’s first power stations equipped with carbon capture technology were announced today.

SSE Peterhead power station in Aberdeenshire. Photo: SSE

The Peterhead 900MW gas-fired power station in Aberdeenshire would capture up to 1.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year, according to its partners, SSE Thermal and Equinor.

But the campaign group, Friends of the Earth Scotland, described carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a “distraction” from proven solutions such as renewables. It said the announcement was an attempt to delay closure of the power station.

Peterhead is Scotland’s only major thermal electricity generating station and ranked as the top Scottish climate polluter in 2018 and 2019.

Its CO2 releases alone increased Scotland’s emissions by 3% from 2017-2018. In 2019, it released 1.6 million tonnes. Environmental campaigners have repeatedly called for Peterhead’s closure.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s climate campaigner, Jess Cowell, said:

“This proposal is an attempt to use the illusory promise of carbon capture to delay the inevitable closure of the fossil fuelled power station at Peterhead.

“Scotland’s improved targets for emissions reductions by 2030 mean there is an urgent need to prioritise proven solutions such as renewables and electrification rather than backing the dangerous distraction of CCS which might not deliver.

“Energy giants like SSE should be involving their workers and communities affected in planning for a proper transition away from fossil fuelled energy production in the North East.

“Carbon Capture will only prolong the life of the oil and gas industry at exactly the time when we should be rapidly transitioning away from fossil fuels.”

CO2 targets

Friends of the Earth said CCS could not achieve the rapid cuts in CO2 emissions needed up to 2030. Scotland would miss its climate targets if it relied on the technology, it said:

“Fossil fuel-based Carbon Capture and Storage is not capable of operating with zero emissions. During the initial deployment of CCS in the power sector, capture rates are often around 65%, gradually building to 90% capture only after several years of operations.

But SSE said in a statement this morning:

“By capturing up to 1.5 million tonnes (MT) of CO2 each year, the new station alone would achieve 15% of the UK Government’s target to capture 10MT of CO2 annually by 2030.”

“Peterhead CCS Power Station, as a new decarbonised power station at the site, would continue to provide this essential flexible and efficient power in a net zero world.”

SSE said the location on Scotland’s east coast gave the Peterhead site access to transport and storage infrastructure being developed at the Acorn Project. This aims to store CO2 about 100km offshore in rocks below the North Sea.

Peterhead and the Acorn Project both won funding from the government’s industrial decarbonisation challenge fund in March.

SSE said final decisions would depend “on the progress of the necessary business models and associated infrastructure”. But it said the new station could come online in 2026.

The energy minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said:

“Carbon capture storage technology is one of the most exciting and innovative ways that we’re looking to tackle climate change, and today’s announcement marks a significant step towards a greener, more sustainable future for Scotland and the whole UK.

“Once up and running, CO2 emissions saved through this station alone will be the equivalent of taking 60 million cars off the road every year.

“Developing and applying this technology in Scotland will be a key element in the energy transition whilst creating a skills base and jobs on the ground that will endure and grow for decades to come.”

9 replies »

  1. Enemies of Industry will never be happy until there is no industry and no lights on. If Peterhead is Scotland’s only major thermal electricity generating station and the CO2 is pumped offshore and injected into the Acorn reservoir(s) how will that cause Scotland to miss it’s climate targets. FOE – EOI – are in a minority if they believe natural gas is not required globally for electricity generation for a long time to come. This technology could be utilised in all countries which have an upstream oil and gas business. Where does FOE propose Scotland’s electricity comes from in periods no high pressure and no wind?

    • Paul, the petrol generator in the shed, to power the Central Heating / hot water pump in order to keep the solid fuel / heating oil / propane / wood fired heating going. SP for those in Scotland used to power outages in Nicolas victory garden. Or they can warm themselves round a roaring candle.

    • Hello again Paul Tresto. I trust you had a good Bank Holiday. Any update on the Ecuadorian Amazon court case situation yet?

      You said ‘Enemies of Industry will never be happy until there is no industry and no lights on.’ Is that true? Wouldn’t the ‘Friends of the Earth’ as I take you to mean in your renaming attempt, be quite happy to have totally renewable energy resources used to keep non polluting industry working and to ‘keep the lights on’ by cleaner more renewable means? That is more the case isn’t it.

      So these ‘Enemies of Industry’ don’t oppose all industry everywhere do they. And human or animal industry is supported. For example people working on a farm or managing forests or growing food? Such as Indigenous Ecuadorians or Nigerians or in many other lands, working hard to live in spite of the deaths from cancer and health problems resulting from crude oil pollution in a land that was once pristine and productive enough for everyone? Are they not suffering from the polluting results of specific ‘industry’?

      What is more of a conundrum is that if ‘Enemies of Industry’ is seen as a reverse of ‘Friends of the Earth’, then maybe it could be said that the ‘enemies’ of ‘Friends of the Earth’ might be equally be called ‘Enemies of the Friends of the Earth’ or more concisely, ‘Enemies of the Earth’ in order to balance what would otherwise be one of those ‘one sided equations’ so bandied about.

      • David King – Update on Ecuadorian Amazon Court Case:

        Chevron in Ecuador Dispute
        SAN RAMON, Calif., Sept. 16, 2020 – The District Court of The Hague today ruled in favor of Chevron Corporation in its dispute with the Republic of Ecuador, upholding a 2018 arbitral award rendered by an international tribunal administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

        In its unanimous award, issued pursuant to the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty, the international arbitral tribunal found that a $9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron was procured through egregious fraud and corruption by the plaintiffs’ legal team, including bribery of the presiding judge and ghostwriting of the judgment. It held the judgment unenforceable under international law. The tribunal also rejected the underlying environmental allegations against Chevron. In its award, the tribunal found that a Chevron subsidiary completed an environmental remediation program supervised and approved by the Republic of Ecuador and that the Republic released the environmental claims on which the fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment was based. Any responsibility for current environmental conditions in Ecuador lies with the state-owned oil company, which continues to operate in the same area today.

        The District Court of The Hague upheld the award in full and rejected the Republic of Ecuador’s attempt to set it aside, noting that “the fraudulent character of the Lago Agrio judgement and the proceedings preceding it is common ground between the parties.” The court found that the international tribunal acted within its remit when issuing the award, and that the award was well reasoned and complied with the applicable law and public policy. The court concluded that the international tribunal’s orders properly sought to “remove the consequences of a fraudulent judgment that was rendered by a corrupt judge.” The court held that “because none of the setting aside grounds brought forward by Ecuador succeed, the claims will be denied.”

        The court’s ruling follows decisions from courts in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Gibraltar and the U.S. rejecting the fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron. In July, Argentina’s highest court unanimously rejected the plaintiffs’ bid to enforce the corrupt judgment, bringing to an end the last pending recognition proceeding against Chevron. Even Ecuador finally admitted in a public filing earlier this year that the $9.5 billion judgment issued by its courts against Chevron is “fraudulent.” Chevron’s arbitration against the Republic of Ecuador is now in its final stage, where the company is seeking to recover from the Republic of Ecuador costs it has incurred to expose and defend against the fraud. etc.

  2. fiends of the earth, oxygen thief’s!

    CCUS is an enabler to a newer future, what fiends of the earth don’t like is any connection to FF’s that is not proactive!

    Educate yourselves please…,

  3. FOE still confusing net zero as the elimination of fossil fuel use, rather than the CCC’s recommendation and the government’s legally binding target of achieving a balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere.

  4. Indeed, John.

    Such organizations have to confuse such things in order to raise the maximum income from the easily confused.

    Meanwhile, I await anyone to declare how humanity will be able to help those suffering the consequences of natural disasters without fossil fuel. Electricity supply has a habit of being eliminated and immediate aid is supplied via the utilization of fossil fuel. Perhaps the poor people should just be left alone to manage the best as they can to satisfy the zealots?

  5. David – two issues you have raised:

    1) No similar case defending the plight of the indigenous Amazonian Ecuadorians

    Reading through the history and the associated cases in various jurisdictions it seems that any ongoing liability is with the Government of Ecuador and the state oil company?

    2) Steven Donziger

    As you say, the contempt trial has started, you just have to wait and see what the verdict is. If Chevron lose then what happens next?

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