By Kristy Dorsey

Plans for a landmark carbon capture project in the north-east of Scotland have been endorsed by Virgin Atlantic, which has agreed to a partnership to reduce the airline’s carbon footprint.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Storegga, which is developing a facility that will permanently remove between 500,000 and one million tonnes of CO2 annually from the atmosphere, follows a similar agreement in July between Storegga and oilfield services provider Petrofac.

Businesses from industries that can’t reduce all of their carbon emissions at source – such as the oil and gas, aviation and shipping sectors – can instead purchase the removal of CO2 by Storegga’s Direct Air Capture (DAC) facility. The recovered carbon dioxide is then put into underground geological storage.

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Storegga is developing the facility in partnership with Canadian-headquartered DAC provider Carbon Engineering following a successful feasibility study in the first half of this year. The project is now in the preliminary engineering and design stage, while a shortlist of potential locations has been identified around the Acorn CSS development, another Storegga project that aims to use depleted North Sea reservoirs as a repository for carbon dioxide.

The DAC is expected to be operational in 2026, making it the first large-scale facility of its kind in Europe.

Storegga chief executive Nick Cooper said it was “excellent” that Virgin Atlantic has chosen DAC as an offsetting solution, the need for which is “clear”.

“To reach our net zero goals and prevent significant temperature rises, we need utilise all the tools available to us,” he said. “Technical offsetting with DAC is urgently needed at scale to sit alongside nature-based offsetting.

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“Last week’s IPCC report is an alarm call to all of us. The quicker we wake up to this, the better our chances of reaching net zero.”

Virgin chief commercial officer Juha Jarvinen said: “Innovation and sustainability leadership is firmly in our DNA and we’re excited to be the first in the aviation industry to partner with Storegga to progress the development of Direct Air Capture solutions in the UK.

"Reducing Virgin Atlantic’s carbon footprint is our number on climate action priority and the removal of CO2 directly from the atmosphere has the potential to become a powerful tool in reaching our target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”