We need to ACT (Accelerating Ccs Technologies) now!!

Christopher de Leeuwe, Newcastle University, Solene Marine Chiquier, Imperial Collage London and Alexandros Argyris,  University of Manchester discuss what they learnt about the ACT Projects during the session on day one of the UKCCSRC Autumn Programme Conference 2019.

What has the UK been doing to accelerate the uptake and use of carbon capture? Well at #UKCCSECedb19 we learnt all about three ACT projects (https://www.act-ccs.eu/) that exactly does that. They aim to make use of existing infrastructure and the ideal geology for carbon capture available off shore in the UK to reduce costs and lead times to realising carbon storage in the UK. We are going to take you through some of our thoughts on the different presentations. Alexandros Argyris will take you through ALIGN, Solene Marine Chiquier will summarise and explain ELEGANCY and then Christopher de Leeuwe will wrap up by talking about the ACORN project.

Maxine Akhurst – ALIGN


The ACT session began with Maxine Akhurst from the British Geological Survey presenting us the ALIGN program (Accelerating low-carbon industrial growth through CCUS).

The program focuses on the 5 key areas that consist of carbon dioxide capture – transport – utilization – storage and finally the social acceptance of CCUS technologies. These areas are also the work packages of the program and Maxine presented the actions that will take place in each area.

Regarding the storage area, the standardized framework of CO2  storage readiness levels start from  the initial identification of storage, followed by the contingent storage resource and end with the storage site ‘on operation’ as presented in a readiness level graph.

ALIGN-CCUS aims to accelerate the CCUS in specific industrial regions in ERA-NET ACT with clusters being Teesside and Grangemouth (UK) , Rotterdam (NL), North Rhine-Westphalia (DE), Grenland (NO) and Oltenia (RO) and to deliver actionable blueprints in each region for low-emission industries through geological storage or utilization of CO2 .

More specifically for the case of the two UK clusters, the following are summarized:

Presentation of the CO2 supply from the published plans and project concepts.
To meet North Sea storage demand for the two UK clusters.
The design and presentation of viable and optimized options for the transport and storage for the two UK industrial clusters.
Application of least-cost development model by using storage options as inputs.
Investigation the possibility of clean hydrogen for use in industrial heating around the clusters.
Business and commercial models for the cluster development.

Maxine concluded with a summary of the presented work and informed us that the research finding outcomes of the ALIGN-CCUS project as well as the events can be found at: www.alignccus.eu


Nixon Sunny – Elegancy Project

Nixon is a PhD student within the Chemical Engineering Department at Imperial College London under the supervision of Prof. Nilay Shah and Dr. Niall Mac Dowell. His research involves close collaboration with industrial links as well as distinguished research institutes within Europe, with a great deal of emphasis placed on fast-tracking CCS deployment across various industries.

Nixon introduced the Elegancy Project and presented some insights from the UK case study analysis, on which his PhD project focuses.

The Elegancy Project is an ERA-Net Cofund ACT project which aims to fast-track the EU decarbonisation through H2 and CCS. This research consortium comprises 22 institutions, and 12 industrial partners. It started in September 2017 and should be completed by August 2020. The Elegancy Project involves 15.6 M from 5 national funding agencies and the European Commission.

The Elegancy Project includes several case studies analyses such as decarbonizing the Dutch economy (Rotterdam), adapting gas infrastructure to H2 in Germany, the Norwegian full-scale CCS chain and synergies with H2 production, enabling Swiss CO2-free transport by H2 and CCS, and last but not least, decarbonizing the UK cities and industrial cluster, on which Nixon’s PhD project focuses.

In particular, this UK case study focuses on the decarbonization of domestic and non-domestic heating and industrial cluster. To name but a few, research questions that are being asked include: Which characteristics define optimal locations for production infrastructure? Which factors are the greatest cost determinants? Or how does the cost of CO2 removal vary with the amount captured on site?

Key findings on heat decarbonization were that:

Methane-based production technologies with CCS are necessary for cost-effective decarbonisation;
A four-fold increase in cavern storage volumes could reduce total system cost by 20%;
Water electrolysis is deployed when constrained by flexible production requirements;
And access to low cost gas and biomass is critical for clean and affordable infrastructure.

Finally, the key output that Nixon presented on industrial cluster decarbonization was that higher CO2 removal rates reduce the total costs of CO2 avoidance through the economies of scale effects.


Alan James – ACORN

The final presentation was on Project ACORN which differs from the other projects detailed here, in that it has come to completion. The project centred on making use of existing oil pipeline off the north east coast of Scotland to reduce capital costs for implementing an underground carbon store making use of the Captain Sandstone formation offshore of the St Fergus Gas terminal.

In order to realise a working carbon storage area a number of problems needed to be addressed, getting CO2 to St Fergus, getting it out to the carbon store, getting it underground and ensuring that it stays there. St Fergus as a choice makes a lot of sense with Peterhead port offering a good option to allow for CO2 to be shipped in from around the UK and further afield helping get the ball rolling with the potential to convert an existing natural gas pipeline which runs from Scotland’s industrial central belt to St Fergus. This pipeline has already been assessed for this purpose previously and looks to be a good option once the site is operating. This site also allows for existing gas pipelines and off shore facilities to be used to reduce capital costs for the implementation of the site.

The underground storage in the area was also shown to be world class with a low porosity cap rock to keep the gas sealed in but with a highly flexible sandstone store which would be stable in CO2 rich conditions as well as having other locations in the area offering further high quality storage options for scale up and a sustainable future.

As this project was completed it, seemed to me at least, gave the room a real lift and buzz about how we as a group can start to make a difference with the large complicated and pressing issue of climate change. The speedy nature of the completion of this project also shows what is possible when we select the correct projects and streamline work to produce results. I found that this project really lifted my hopes for the future of CCS in the UK.

Final Thoughts

Well I hope that these exciting projects have got you as excited about the future of CCS in the UK as we were. This work really helped us to put the effort and drive of researchers and industry in to perspective as we work together to try and save our planet. If any of these projects have caught your interest we recommend looking at the individual projects’ websites where a lot more details are available and you can experience a “deep dive” into the problems facing CCS in the UK and internationally.


This blog was co-authored by Christopher de Leeuwe, Newcastle University, Solene Marine Chiquier, Imperial Collage London, and Alexndros Argyris, University of Manchester.