Carbon transportation

Once CO2 has been captured, it needs to be transported to its storage location. In the UK all planned storage will be offshore.

The Global CCS Institute (GCCSI) have produced an excellent 101 explainer on carbon transportation.  Below, we give more detail, including deeper dive links to presentations at UKCCSRC events or Flexible Funding projects that have undertaken further research into specific aspects of carbon transportation.

Once CO2 has been captured, it can be transported to its permanent storage site in four main ways:

– road
– rail
– shipping
– pipelines

Road

Trucking is a viable method for transporting small quantities of CO2 (up to ~100 tonnes) but is expensive for large volumes. It is a flexible, adaptable and reliable method, which will usually be needed during some part of the transportation, i.e. between the emitter and the rail network or shipping port, if pipelines cannot be used.

Rail

Rail can handle larger volumes of CO2 than trucks over longer distances. However, it is only economical if the existing rail infrastructure can be used. Additional loading and unloading facilities would have to be provided.  Most emitters would still need to use trucking or pipelines to get the CO2 to the rail network.

Shipping

Shipping provides the flexibility to collect CO2 from isolated sources and deliver it to storage facilities. It can also be more economical over long distances or if transportation is only needed for a short time.  It requires harbour alterations as well as trucking, rail or pipelines to get the CO2 from the emitter to the ship.  Small-scale ship transportation is already in operation, e.g. in Europe for shipping CO2 short distances to the food and drink industries.  Large-scale ship transportation is viable – it is already used for shipping Liquefied Natural Gas.

Pipelines

Pipelines are the most viable method for transporting large quantities of CO2 over large distances and are currently used for the majority of CO2 transportation. Some of the infrastructure required is already in place, although it will need to be scaled up significantly.  The USA has had significant onshore operational experience for over 40 years (~5000 miles of CO2 pipelines).  There is currently only one operational offshore pipeline in Norway (Sleipner). Pipelines have been used to transport oil and gas (including the gas we use in our homes) for decades.

Current UK position

In the UK, the Government is developing CCS clusters – groups of CO2 emitters who can share transportation and storage.

Click on the image opposite (credit DESNZ) to access the policy paper it’s taken from – “CCUS Net Zero investment roadmap: Capturing carbon and a global opportunity” (published 5 April 2023)

However, large emitters who aren’t connected to clusters (aka dispersed facilities) also need to be able to get their CO2 to storage sites in the most efficient and economical way that they are able to.

Dr Muir Freer – through his UKCCSRC-funded “Integration of CO2 Capture at Dispersed and Remote UK Cement Production with CCS Infrastructure” project – has created a Carbon Navigation System, modelling different transportation options for getting cement emissions to storage sites.  The CNS models integration pathways – automatically switching between HGVs, rail, shipping and pipelines – and looks at carbon-optimal and fiscally-optimal considerations.

Deeper dive

“CO2 Transportation” parallel session from the UKCCSRC Spring 2023 Conference (recording and presentations available).  Speakers/topics were:

  • Muir Freer (University of Manchester) – Integrating Dispersed and Remote Cement Production into Carbon Capture and Storage Infrastructure in the UK: Flexibility, Threats and Opportunities
  • Jasmin Kemper (IEAGHG) – The Status and Challenges of CO2 Shipping Infrastructures
  • Julia Race (University of Strathclyde) – Characterisation of UK Industrial Clusters and TechnoEconomic Cost Assessment for Carbon Dioxide Transport and Storage Implementation

“The flexibility requirements of CCS and how to meet them” webinar (February 2023).  Speakers were:

  • Dan Perry (GHD)
  • Jude Ejeh (University of Sheffield)
  • Lydia Rycroft (TNO)
TERC amine capture plant

Carbon Capture

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Carbon Storage

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Systems, Policy & Public Perception