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Boost for UK CCS and hydrogen as East Coast Cluster captures 'Track 1' status

UK power generator SSE Thermal, part of SSE plc, decarbonization plans took a major step forward as the UK Government announced that the East Coast Cluster will be one of the first two regions supported to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) infrastructure, keeping it on track for delivery by the middle of this decade.

SSE Thermal, part of SSE plc, decarbonization plans took a major step forward as the UK Government announced that the East Coast Cluster will be one of the first two regions supported to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) infrastructure, keeping it on track for delivery by the middle of this decade (photo courtesy SSE Thermal).

The highly anticipated announcement by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy comes just two weeks ahead of the landmark COP26 conference in Glasgow, will support the decarbonization of major emitters in the cluster, which comprises England’s industrial Humber and Teesside regions.

As a ‘Track 1’ cluster, the East Coast Cluster will be supported to deploy carbon dioxide (CO2) transport and storage infrastructure by the mid-2020s, accelerating decarbonization and maximizing the benefits of the net-zero transition for workers and communities.

HyNet, a cluster based in the North West of England, has also been confirmed as a ‘Track 1’ cluster.

Meanwhile, SSE Thermal is “disappointed” that the Scottish Cluster, in which the company is progressing its Peterhead Carbon Capture Power Station project, has not been confirmed as a ‘Track 1’ cluster today.

SSE Thermal notes that the Scottish Cluster has been announced as a “reserve cluster” for ‘Track 1’ and will engage with the UK Government on the importance of delivering CCS infrastructure in North-East of Scotland as soon as possible.

This the company says, will be “crucial in delivering a net-zero power system and ensuring a just transition for Scotland’s workforce from high-carbon to low-carbon jobs.”

Following the announcement, government and industry will move into the next phase of discussions on which individual carbon capture projects should be supported first within the clusters.

Hydrogen power plans

Among the most advanced projects in the East Coast Cluster is SSE Thermal’s plan with Equinor to develop one of the UK’s first power stations equipped with CCS technology at Keadby, which entered the planning process in June and could become operational as early as 2026.

SSE Thermal is also progressing plans with Equinor for the world’s first major 100 percent hydrogen-fired power station at Keadby, as well as a large-scale hydrogen storage facility at Aldbrough on the East Yorkshire coast – both of which could be operational by 2030 and are well placed to plug into the East Coast Cluster.

According to SSE Thermal, CCS infrastructure will pave the way for the production of low-carbon hydrogen, which will play a key role in the decarbonization of power generation, heavy industry, heat, and transport.

As we look ahead to COP26, today’s announcement marks a significant step in the UK’s journey to net-zero, kick-starting plans to sustainably decarbonize industrial heartlands in the North of England. If the UK is serious about leading the way on climate action, developing carbon capture and hydrogen infrastructure will be crucial in decarbonizing the harder-to-reach sectors of the economy while ensuring a just transition for workers and communities, said Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director SSE Thermal.

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