Skip to main content

Carbon capture and storage

As Scotland’s environmental regulator, we are responsible for some of the primary environmental legislation  that covers carbon capture and storage (CCS), and have statutory duties within the land use planning system and local air quality management system. We are also involved in working with EU, UKand Scottish governments as well as other environment agencies. In addition, we provide advice to and have regular interactions with academia, industry and the general public. 

Please see the following sections for more information:


CCS is intended to prevent certain industrial-scale sources of human-generated carbon dioxide (CO2) from being released to the atmosphere. It involves three steps:

  • CO2 capture - from a large point source, such as a power station or other industrial installation.
  • transport of CO2 – by pipeline or ship.
  • CO2 storage – within underground geological formations.

For further information, please visit the EU Zero Emissions Platform and the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centrewebpages.

Implementation in the UK

At present, the most advanced CCS projects in the UK in terms of their development are:

Both of these projects are currently undertaking what are known as Front End Engineering Design (FEED) studies, which have been funded through the UK CCS Commercialisation competition.

We are a statutory consultee in the planning process for the Peterhead CCS Project, which proposes to use an amine-based post-combustion carbon capture technology. The activity of carbon capture is regulated by us, primarily through Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2012 and the EU Emissions Trading System. Please see our FAQs and the Regulating CCS section below for more details.

For an overview of CCS projects around the world, please see the global mapprovided by the Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage research group.

Peterhead CCS Project frequently asked questions

Error loading Partial View script (file: ~/Views/MacroPartials/Accordian.cshtml)

Regulating CCS

SEPA is one of the regulators in a full chain CCS project. An overview of key consents, licences and regulatory authorities can be found at the Scottish Government website.

CO2 storage is likely to be in deep geological reservoirsalong the UK continental shelf, which are evaluated by the British Geological Surveyand leased by the Crown Estate. Environmental impacts from storage will be regulated by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Our remit for the impacts of CCS is to protect the environment and human health, largely from the capture stage. In England and Wales the environmental regulators with similar roles to ours are the Environmental Agencyand Natural Resources Wales, respectively. The primary environmental legislation under which we will regulate carbon capture activities is outlined below:

  • We regulate the operators of large thermal energy generation installations under the Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2012 (known as PPC 2012). Carbon capture for the purposes of geological storage is also a listed activity under the PPC Regulations.
  • The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (known as CAR) require operators of activities likely to have an impact on the water environment to be authorised by SEPA.
  • We are a statutory consultee to the environmental impact assessment (EIA) conducted on major planning applications, including  applications for consent submitted under the Electricity Act 1989. We engage in the EIA and planning processes at an early stage in order to address potential environmental issues.
  • We review local air quality management plans, and consider how emissions from regulated installations affect UK Air Quality Standards.
  • We will provide advice to Scottish Government as to whether a proposed new power station has met the requirements of the carbon capture readiness guidanceprovided by the Scottish Government in demonstrating that there is adequate space for carbon capture and that there are no barriers to retrofitting carbon capture equipment in the future.
  • In the case of coal-fired power stations, we will provide advice to the Scottish Government as to whether the applicant has submitted technically feasible plans for a carbon capture unit sufficient to cover the minimum size requirement of at least 300MWe net capacity of the power station, and whether the remaining capacity of the power station can also be considered capture ready.
  • We are the competent authority for the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) in Scotland. We issue permits to eligible installations and ensure that operators comply with the system’s operational rules. CO2 captured and stored will be considered as ‘not emitted’ under the EU ETS.
  • The presence of dangerous substances has the potential to bring installations not previously subject to the Control Of Major Accident Hazard Regulations 1999 (COMAH) within the scope of that regime. At non-nuclear sites in Scotland, SEPA and the HSE are the COMAH Competent Authority. In order to implement the new Seveso III Directive,the COMAH Regulations 1999 will be repealed and replaced by the COMAH Regulations 2015 on 1 June 2015.

Amine-based post-combustion carbon capture technology

The proposed technology for the Peterhead CCS Project is an amine-based post-combustion carbon capture process. This technology is in use at the world’s first commercial scale CCS project at the Boundary Dam power station in Saskatchewan, Canada which began commissioning in October 2014.

Review of amine emissions from carbon capture systems v2.01, reviews the emission of amines (and related amine reaction products) from post combustion carbon capture systems, their potential effects and considers the development of effective environmental standards. 

The paper considers four main aspects:

  • emissions of amines and associated reaction products;
  • the potential impact of such emissions on the environment and on human health;
  • the extent of relevant environmental quality standards;
  • issues associated with measurement of such compounds at low concentrations in emissions and in the environment.  

This document was originally prepared in the latter half of 2014 and developed through to the end of 2014. We are aware that further detailed technical information on emissions of amine compounds from carbon capture systems has been, or is now in the process of, being published. We are currently reviewing data and literature published post July 2014 with a view to publishing Version 3.01 at an appropriate time.