Atkins wins contract for UK's first net zero emissions plant

By Dominic Ellis
Atkins appointed engineering provider for proposed 300MW NET Power plant in Teesside which aims to open in 2025

Atkins has won an engineering contract for a 300MW NET Power station at Wilton International, Teesside - billed as the UK's first Net Zero emissions power station.

Whitetail Clean Energy (Whitetail) has appointed Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, together with US clean energy innovation firm 8 Rivers Capital, acting through its UK affiliate, Zero Degrees Whitetail Development; and Sembcorp Energy UK (SEUK), along with NET Power, to develop the station at the Wilton International site.

The proposed 300MW NET Power plant, set to capture and store its carbon emissions in secure geological formations deep under the North Sea, aims to be operational from 2025.

For the contract, Atkins will support Whitetail as the Owner’s Engineer through the design phases to financial close. Atkins will also provide an on-site presence to monitor, supervise and manage the construction and commissioning phase.

Whitetail is expected to utilise the NET Power technology, which combusts natural gas with oxygen, rather than air, and uses supercritical CO2 as a working fluid to drive a turbine instead of steam. As a result, nearly all air emissions, including traditional pollutants and CO2, are eliminated and pipeline-quality CO2 is produced so that it can be captured and stored offshore.

The proposed location at Sembcorp Energy UK’s site at Wilton International already offers convenient port and pipeline access, meaning that all Whitetail’s captured CO2 can be easily transported to UK sequestration sites.

8 Rivers Capital completed a Pre-FEED study for UK deployments of the NET Power technology earlier this year with funding from the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

Whitetail will also be in the vanguard of investment into a number of objectives of the UK Government’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution, and is expected to bring inward investment into the clean power sector supporting over 2,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs, including cascading supply chain opportunities during the construction phase of the project.

Cam Hosie, Chief Executive of 8 Rivers Capital, said the appointment of Atkins to the Owner’s Engineer role represents another key step towards Whitetail becoming a reality and clearly marks the start of an acceleration in the deployment of NET Power plants in the UK. "Whitetail will provide dispatchable clean power alongside renewable energy to help the UK meet its collective climate goals and we are delighted that Atkins will be working with us on this innovative infrastructure project of national significance," he said. 

Andy Koss, CEO of UK & Middle East, Sembcorp Industries, said Whitetail Clean Energy represents a first-of-a-kind carbon capture technology and we are pleased that Atkins will be helping us bring this to Teesside.
"Whitetail embodies our commitment to reducing the carbon emissions of our power generation assets at Wilton International and to supporting the development of sustainable solutions both in the region and for the UK."

Chris Ball, Managing Director – Nuclear and Power, Atkins EMEA, added: “With a long-standing history in the region, this project will bring together our local expertise with a global capability in sustainable best practice to deliver Engineering Net Zero. "We look forward to working closely with Whitetail Clean Energy to support the development of this new innovative technology and deliver a route to clean and affordable power for the Teesside region."

Focal point for low-carbon projects

The sharp growth in carbon-conscious energy and industrial projects in north-east England has led to the creation of an East Coast Cluster and formal collaboration between Northern Endurance Partnership (NEP), Net Zero Teesside and Zero Carbon Humber.

Uniting the two regions of Humber and Teesside, which account for nearly 50% of CO2 emissions from all UK industrial clusters, provides a better chance of the UK reaching decarbonisation and net zero targets and delivering on CCUS, low-carbon and hydrogen projects.

East Coast Cluster has the potential to support more than 25,000 jobs a year between 2023 and 2050 and capture, transport and store up to 27 million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year by 2030 through a diverse mix of low-carbon projects.

NEP, formed by bp, Eni, Equinor, National Grid, Shell and Total in 2020, is developing the common offshore infrastructure that will transport CO2 from industrial emitters in these regions, most of which are Net Zero Teesside and Zero Carbon Humber projects, to secure offshore storage in the Endurance aquifer in the Southern North Sea. Feasibility work on these projects is being co-funded by Innovate UK.


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