Shell reaches landmark with world’s first industrial carbon capture project

HOUSTON — The British government, already a strong advocate of clean energy, showed that it is planning to put its money where its carbon is, signing an agreement on Monday to move ahead on the world’s first industrial-sized carbon capture project.

The Brits have agreed with Shell UK to launch the design phase for the Peterhead Carbon Capture and Storage, or CCS, project in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The project is designed to capture up to 10 million tons of carbon dioxide over the next ten years from an existing gas power station owned by SSE, a British generation company.

“The signing of this agreement is a hugely important step towards the United Kingdom delivering the world’s first CCS demonstration facility on a gas-fired power station,” said Ed Daniels, chairman of Shell UK, in a written statement. “The successful demonstration of the technology at Peterhead would be a step towards proving its commercial viability as a tool for mitigating climate change.”

The project marks one of many efforts the British government is taking to meet ambitious carbon reduction goals laid out in energy legislation passed in 2012. In the legislation, the government established a goal of a 50 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2020, based on 1990 levels. It plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.It also set a target of 30 percent renewable energy by 2020.

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Under the agreement, the design phase of the project will be completed by 2015, at which time both Shell and the UK Government will make final investment decisions. If they decide to go ahead at that time, the project will be running by the end of the decade, Shell said.

The project will use a process to capture the carbon dioxide emissions from the power plant and transport it into a deep underground storage facility. The emissions will be captured post-combustion capture and will use amines to absorb the carbon dioxide, a technology that is the best available for this methodology, according to Shell. The carbon dioxide emissions will be piped from the power station to an offshore facility 12 miles from shore, called the Goldeneye reservoir.

The Peterhead project is one of several carbon capture projects supported by Shell, including investments in Canada and Australia.