Teesside Collective looks into carbon capture pilot

Teesside Collective has issued a tender to design a carbon capture pilot project.

The £90,000 contract has two parts. The first is to design a carbon capture unit for one of its members and put together a business case to sell the captured CO2. The second is to design a demonstration centre which other companies can use to scale up carbon utilisation technologies.

Teesside Collective is a joint venture between a number of industrial businesses in the Tees Valley in the north east of England and Tees Valley Unlimited – a Local Enterprise Partnership. Their aim is to create Europe’s first capture and storage (CCS) equipped industrial zone.

The carbon capture unit will be designed for use by Lotte Chemicals, a member of the Teesside Collective which makes PET for the production of soft drink bottles. “It produces about 55,000 tonnes of CO2 [annually] and we’d look to capture about 90 per cent of that,” said Low Carbon Manager for Tees Valley Unlimited Sarah Tennison.

“At the moment there’s nowhere to put the CO2, no capture network, so we would be looking to find people to buy the CO2. People who use the CO2 to produce products.”

She continued: “This is literally a concept at the moment. It’s not a guarantee that Lotte will do this at all. There needs to be quite a clear business case for Lotte …  We’re just investigating the possibility.”

The demonstration centre will enable companies to scale up “near to market technologies”, mostly like for heavy industrial processes such as the manufacturing of aggregates, fertilisers and other chemicals. “There is a need to develop technology which not just uses CO2 but uses it captures it so it stored,” said Tennison. “With a lot of uses at the moment – within the food industry, within the drinks industry – it isn’t actually stored but released.”  

She noted that carbon utilisation is on a “different scale” to carbon capture and storage (CCS): “Carbon capture and storage can deal with millions of tonnes of CO2. Carbon utilisation deals with much, much smaller amounts of CO2.”

The tender follows on from a blueprint for industrial CCS in the UK published by Teesside Collective last summer, using £1 million of funding from what was then the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Since then it has received a further £300,000 of funding to continue developing its plans to use carbon capture technologies.

The government’s cancellation of a £1 billion competition to commercialise CCS for the power sector in November, means industrial ventures such as the Teesside Collective have become the main hope to develop the technology in the UK in the near future.

Tennison reiterated calls made by others – including former shadow energy secretary Alan Whitehead – to develop a national CCS strategy: “There is a need for a national strategy because we need to move forward following the cancellation of the competition. CCS is still needed; I think everybody agrees from the Committee on Climate Change to the International Energy Agency.” In February former energy secretary Amber Rudd dismissed such a strategy as unnecessary

Tennison also welcomed the merging of the business and energy departments into the new Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: “I think it’s very good thing for industrial CCS. Previously we always straddled two departments.”

The collective’s members include Sembcorp Utilities which operates biomass and energy from waste plants in the Tees Valley. Yesterday the Teesside Collective announced it was working with Edinburgh University to test the flue gases from Sembcorps’ biomass plant at the Wilton International site to find the best way to capture carbon dioxide from its emissions.

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