Direct carbon capture facility planned for UK port

Nuclear power plant Sizewell C and Associated British Ports (ABP) have revealed they are drawing up plans to locate a unique Direct Air Capture (DAC) facility at the Port of Lowestoft, capable of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The facility will use Direct Air Capture – a technology that uses chemical reactions to pull carbon dioxide out of the air, which can then be stored –  and it is set to become a key technology for reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change.

The project at Lowestoft is designed to demonstrate a more efficient and innovative DAC process, which would be powered principally by heat.

Sizewell C and ABP have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to finalise the commercial arrangements to lease a site at Port of Lowestoft, and the planning permission to build the facility will be sought shortly.

If the demonstrator project is successful, a permanent full-scale DAC unit could then use heat generated from Sizewell C to extract CO2 from the air. The full-scale DAC facility would be located at a separate location to the power station, with the heat transported through underground pipes. Such facility could potentially capture 1.5m tonnes of CO2 each year. That is enough to almost offset the UK’s total emissions from railway transport.

ABP’s Regional Director, Andrew Harston said: “ABP’s Port of Lowestoft is delighted to host this demonstrator DAC project, which represents a great step forward in our shared goals of achieving net zero. The project aligns closely with ABP’s recently published strategy, to achieve Net Zero by 2040, as well as SZC’s focus on the production of clean, low-carbon energy.

The plans follow the UK Government’s decision to award £3 million to Sizewell C and its partners (Birmingham University, Nottingham University, Helical, Atkins and Altrad Babcock) in 2022 as part of the Greenhouse Gas Removals competition, to develop this novel heat-assisted DAC technology.

All the engineering, design, construction and testing activities for the demonstrator unit will be carried out in the UK.

Sizewell C Director, Julia Pyke, explained:  “We are delighted to be developing plans with ABP to locate the demonstrator DAC facility at the Port of Lowestoft and to help drive net zero innovation in the East of England.

“DAC is one part of our plan to make Sizewell C a low-carbon hub, which will help kickstart other technologies and deliver even more value to our energy system.”

During phase 1 of the Greenhouse Gas Removals (GGR) competition, the consortium successfully completed a research and development project for heat-driven DAC.  The Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham which conduct internationally leading R&D of innovative carbon capture technologies will be part of the process and the hope is that the facility will be the pilot scheme the roll out of the technology as part of the UK net zero ambitions.