New Carbon Removal Plant to Bring Hope to Northern Scotland

Two companies have recently announced their partnership to install a large carbon removal plant in the Northern part of Scotland. The plant is expected to be completed within the next five years and has the potential to remove the amount of CO2 equivalent to 40 million trees per year.

New Carbon Removal Plant to Bring Hope to Northern Scotland
Photo by Tim Rüßmann

With the growing threat of climate change creeping up on humanity, companies across the globe are scrambling to create technology to help lower their overall environmental footprint. Per the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we need to keep our global temperature below 1.5°C throughout the end of the century to remain at safe levels for human life.

The UK company, Storegga, and Canadian company, Carbon Engineering, have recently announced their contribution toward climate change remediation via their plans for a large-scale carbon capture plant to be erected in Northeastern Scotland. Their carbon removal plan, commonly referred to as Direct Air Capture (DAC), is expected to remove nearly one million tons of carbon dioxide annually.

The plans are still new and they are expected to develop further within the next year. There has been a brief study done that expects the facility to be fully operational around 2026. Though the two companies still haven’t picked a location for the plant yet, they have announced the potential of 300 jobs to be created and the various other benefits that can arise when this facility comes to fruition.

The Buzz Around Carbon Capture

The carbon removal process is typically done via a large fan that draws in air, refines it with a chemical mixture, and then binds the CO2. This refinement is then heated at extreme temperatures, goes through more processing, and eventually creates a carbon stream that is then ejected into the ground. This facility is expected to eject their carbon underneath the seabed. Northern Scotland’s proximity to coastal pipelines is one of the main reasons this country was chosen as the destination for this plant since it can save the two companies time and money that can then be invested back into the project.

Carbon capture plants are generally touted to be a viable source for lowering overall atmospheric emissions. However, some individuals are opposed to this process due to the potential outcome that can arise when people or companies become dependent on it. It is sometimes believed that if carbon removal were to become more mainstream, many companies, such as within the oil industry, will simply pay to have their carbon removed and will not take any other sustainable initiatives. While it is good if carbon removal were to become more common, it is certainly not the only step that should be taken. As with most things in life, having a healthy balance is key. It should be encouraged for companies to invest in carbon removal, but they should also work toward, and be held accountable for, lowering their environmental footprint through other means.

Senior research fellow at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, Dr. Ajay Gambhir, stated that carbon removal is "a much more sensible strategy to treat these technologies as a nice addition, we should work hard on them and make sure that they can become cost-competitive, and economic in the 2020s. But at the same time, we need to just make sure we reduce emissions as fast as possible as far as possible. So that if DAC does come along, then that's great. That's a really nice addition to our toolkit if you like, but we definitely don't rely on them."

One of Many

Carbon Engineering has already had a significant backlog of successful ventures into the carbon capture field - with some even considering them a leader in this area. One of their facilities located in Squamish, British Columbia, has been removing 1 ton of carbon dioxide per day since 2015. It is expected that Carbon Engineering will utilize the same technology from their Squamish facility at their new one in Northern Scotland. This can provide more assurance to the success of their new facility and yield even greater potential for outside investment and support.

Storegga is a newer company focusing on subsurface renewable projects intending to pioneer the shift toward a net-zero world. The company has mostly acted as an independent player in other carbon removal projects and will show its true measure of competence during the construction of this grand project.

Only time will tell the success of this plant, and carbon removal in general. Since both companies are familiar with this field and have had some achievement in it, we can expect the outcome of this plant to be positive. When it is fully operational by 2026, the amount of CO2 it will remove will be a significant amount that is sure to have a beneficial impact on the planet. This will create a domino effect or more facilities to be erected on a global scale, thus eventually leading to remediating the ever-growing threat of climate change.

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