Branching out with Acorn

On 1 May I started my very own energy transition. There was no drastic fuel switching, just focus switching, as I moved from working on public and community engagement for carbon capture and storage (CCS) at the Global CCS Institute to become the latest recruit at Pale Blue Dot Energy.

Having worked with CCS for nearly a decade, I no longer get particularly phased by talk of ‘challenges’, but day one of the new job and I came across a new one.

"Kirsty, we’ve put you down to host a webinar on the ACT Acorn project" – interesting…

"Kirsty, the webinar is set in 2025"… pardon me?  

Of all the tasks I was nervously anticipating on day one, time bending had not made my list. So, it was with some trepidation that I started to arrange meetings with each of the experts who had agreed to participate in this futuristic webinar. I need not have worried. As with most of the perceived challenges around CCS, there is almost always a way to turn them into an opportunity, and, in the end, my webinar challenge turned out to be more mind-bending than time-bending.

Imagining a 2025 where CCS deployment was a reality forced us to shake off the disappointments of the past, look beyond the issues and blockers of the present, and really focus on the events and circumstances that could prove to be short-term ‘game changers’. Exploring the potential development paths that our expert presenters could imagine for Acorn, and more generally for CCS in the UK and Europe, was enlightening. I emerged from these discussions feeling much more optimistic about the cost savings that could be achieved from some specific infrastructure reuse.

I was buoyed to learn of a pattern of growing interest from local authorities and enterprise bodies regarding the economic benefits enabled by investment in CO2 infrastructure. Perhaps most significantly, I no longer worry that a modestly sized industrial location in North East Scotland is too remote, or too small, to ever be seriously considered as a cost-effective CCS cluster.

Acorn has been carefully designed to act as a low-cost, low-risk CCS catalyst – it is the seed planted to grow the root system that is a prerequisite to support any further branching-out projects. While the 200,000 tonnes per annum volume of CO2 that is planned to be captured and stored in the first phase of the project is relatively small, it is more than enough to test and commission the commercial-scale CO2 transport and storage infrastructure that, once operational, can fully support the many build-out opportunities to be highlighted in this webinar.

It has been a lot of fun to delve into some of the detailed studies emerging from the ACT Acorn international research collaboration, and a real privilege to have four such experienced guides to help explain the significance of their findings. Along the journey, I also figured out the solution to my time-bending challenge. So, if you care to join me on Wednesday 20th June at 11am (UK time), I am confident that I will be able to transport you to 2025. It’s quite simple really… time flies when you are having fun!

Make sure and register for the first ACT Acorn webinar here: REGISTER NOW