Peterhead Power Station Explainer
Explaining the proposals to build a new gas-fired power station with Carbon Capture at Peterhead.
What is being proposed at Peterhead power station?
Energy giant SSE and the fossil fuel company Equinor are proposing to build a new and additional gas-fired plant next to the existing gas-fired plant at Peterhead power station in Aberdeenshire
The developers are predicting that it would not be operational until 2027 at the earliest, and could be running for decades to come
The current Peterhead plant was Scotland’s single biggest polluter in 2018, 2019 and 2020. In 2020 it belched out 1.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
The additional plant will produce 910MW of electricity alongside the existing 1180 MW plant.
The proposal expects reduced capacity at the existing Peterhead power station, but does not rule out both plants operating at full capacity. This risks a significant increase in emissions if both plants run simultaneously.
What are the dangers of a new Peterhead power station?
The Peterhead proposals should ring alarm bells for anyone concerned about Scotland doing our fair share of climate action. It will produce out hundreds of thousands tonnes of emissions for years to come, when we need instead to rapidly cut emissions.
Climate science is crystal clear that Scotland should be transitioning to powering our lives with renewable energy, not building new fossil fuel infrastructure.
A new gas-fired power plant in Scotland would keep us locked into drilling and burning fossil fuels for decades to come. This long-term commitment to fossil fuels gives another excuse for oil and gas companies to keep on looking for new fields in the North Sea.
What about carbon capture and storage at the Peterhead site?
SSE says that another company (Equinor) will attempt to add carbon capture and storage technology to the new plant at a later date. There is no guarantee this will happen or that it will work. We only have their word for it.
This will be at least the third attempt to make CCS work with the Peterhead power plant with two previous failures in 2007 and 2015. Evidence from around the world shows that CCS has a long history of repeated failure and often serves as little more than greenwash for fossil fuel companies who want to maintain business as usual.
On the rare occasion it does work ( there are only 26 working CCS plants in the world) the plants capture far less carbon than industry has predicted.
The whole Peterhead plan is built on the rotten foundations of CCS.
With Scotland’s climate targets, and the clear need for rich nations to act faster on climate change, we cannot afford to build highly polluting new fossil fuel plants.
What happens with the planning application?
The developers SSE submitted a planning application to the Aberdeenshire Council in February 2022 . They have also submitted documents to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consent Unit in March 2022.
Because this is a large energy generating proposal, the Scottish Government will make the final decision on whether it should be allowed to be constructed.
We sent an official objection to the proposals to the Energy Consents Unit.
However, members of Aberdeenshire Council will also get a chance to look at the planning application. Members of the Buchan Area Committee will see it in the coming weeks and then it will pass to the Infrastructure Committee. Councillors have a duty to speak out against these dangerous proposals.
Friends of the Earth Scotland are encouraging people to contact members of these Committees to let them know you object to these proposals.
We are also putting pressure on the Scottish Government to reject these plans when the time comes. The Scottish Government has recently signalled a shift in its position on unlimited fossil fuel extraction by opposing the controversial Cambo oil field.
With full powers to determine whether the new Peterhead gas plant should go ahead or not, it’s time for the Scottish Government to show real climate leadership by rejecting it, and committing to the decisions that need to be made for a just and rapid transition away from fossil fuels.