Crown Estate Scotland has announced that it has signed its first-ever lease option for carbon dioxide (CO2) storage.
The project, Acorn CCS, which will be based at the St Fergus Gas Terminal on the Aberdeenshire coast, is designed to take advantage of existing oil and gas assets to quickly deliver large scale, cost-effective CO2 transport and storage infrastructure in the Central North Sea.
This is the first lease option issued by Crown Estate Scotland for this technology since being established in April 2017 and signals the organisation’s commitment to nurturing innovation and contributing to Scotland’s ambitious climate change targets.
An option is a precursor to a full lease. It gives the developer confidence that rights to carry out studies can be granted and will allow other work to progress the proposal. Once new consents are secured, permissions and consents from UK agencies are also required.
Carbon capture and storage is a process which captures large quantities of carbon dioxide emissions from industrial processes before it is released into the atmosphere. The CO2 is then transported and stored in suitable underground locations – the rock formations deep below the Central North Sea are internationally recognised for their excellent CO2 storage potential.
Colin Palmer, Head of Marine at Crown Estate Scotland, said: “This is a major milestone for both the industry and Crown Estate Scotland. Making sure that Scotland can use our natural resources to host this type of cutting-edge technology is something we’re very proud to be a part of, working alongside developers such as Pale Blue Dot. We look forward to working with industry and Government to help unlock the potential of this area.”
Alan James, Managing Director of Pale Blue Dot Energy and Acorn CCS Project Leader, said: “Securing this lease option from Crown Estate Scotland is a really important step to help us develop one of the UK’s first CO2 transportation and storage networks. Through Acorn CCS, Scotland can use legacy oil and gas assets to deliver environmental benefits, unlocking CO2 transportation and storage solutions for other carbon capture utilisation and storage (
Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands welcomed the lease option agreement: “This is a very important step forward for the Acorn Project and Scotland. Scotland’s key CCUS resource is our vast potential for the storage of carbon dioxide (CO2). Scotland’s ‘over-supply’ of offshore geological storage assets, such as can be found in the Central North Sea, presents us, as a nation, with an economic opportunity in future to be at the centre of a hub for the importation and storage of CO2 from Europe. In such a way we can further help address the threat posed by climate change, while also utilising the skills within Scotland’s energy supply chain.”
When combined with critical CCUS infrastructure, Scotland’s excellent geology deep below the Central North Sea has the potential to host around 75% of the UK’s capacity of CO2 emissions, helping meet both UK and Scottish climate change targets. St Fergus Gas Terminal is an active industrial site where around 35% of all the natural gas used in the UK comes onshore, making it an excellent location to construct and operate new industrial facilities (such as hydrogen generation) and to initiate an early CCUS transport and storage hub.
As the body responsible for leasing the rights to renewable energy and CO2 storage up to 200 nautical miles from shore, Crown Estate Scotland has an integral role in