The UK economy receives a significant green boost as the Energy Secretary unveils a strategic initiative to position the country as a global hub for Carbon Capture, Usage, and Storage (CCUS).

Outlined in the CCUS Vision, the plan charts a course for the UK’s evolution from early government-supported projects to a competitive market in CCUS by 2035. This entails domestic companies vying for the opportunity to construct carbon capture facilities and offer their services on the international stage.

Anticipated to contribute £5bn annually to the economy by 2050, this initiative positions the UK at the forefront of CCUS technology. Simultaneously, it enables the nation to fulfil its net-zero commitments in a fiscally responsible manner, alleviating the financial burden on taxpayers.

Carbon capture operates by intercepting carbon dioxide (CO2) before it is released into the atmosphere and securely depositing it underground, utilising voids created by prior oil and gas extraction. The UK holds a strategic advantage over other nations due to its distinctive geology, established skills, and infrastructure as an island nation. Additionally, the vast expanse beneath the North Sea provides ample room for storing up to 78 billion tonnes of CO2.

This marks the latest stride in advancing Carbon Capture, Usage, and Storage (CCUS) technologies, with the objective of sequestering 20-30 million tonnes of CO2 annually by 2030 and generating employment for 50,000 individuals by the same year. The initiative is supported by a substantial investment of up to £20bn.

Simultaneously, the Department is initiating the process to facilitate more companies in connecting to and expanding the HyNet Cluster in the North-West and Wales. This endeavour is poised to create additional jobs and foster increased investment in the region.

Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said: ”Thanks to the UK’s geology, skills and infrastructure, we are in a unique position to lead the way on carbon capture technologies.

“That is why we’re making one of the biggest funding commitments in Europe on carbon capture that will cut emissions from our atmosphere, while unlocking investment, creating tens of thousands of jobs and growing the UK economy.”

The CCUS Vision, designed to establish a competitive CCUS market by 2035, incorporates strategic measures to attain this objective. These include:

  1. Competitive Allocation Process: Implementing a competitive allocation process for carbon capture projects starting in 2027, with the aim of expediting the development of the UK’s CCUS sector.
  2. Diverse Transport Options: Creating conditions for projects incapable of transporting CO2 via pipelines to enter the market as early as 2025. This involves utilizing alternative forms of transport such as ships, roads, and railways.
  3. Cost Reduction Initiatives: Forming a working group led by industry to identify and implement solutions for reducing the cost associated with capturing CO2.

These measures collectively contribute to the overarching goal of fostering a dynamic and competitive landscape in the CCUS sector, ensuring its growth and sustainability in the coming years.

Earlier this year, an additional two carbon capture clusters were unveiled, expanding the total to four in the UK. These clusters, strategically positioned across the country, align with the government’s commitment to decarbonize both industry and power. The existing clusters include HyNet in North West England, East Coast Cluster in Teesside and the Humber, Acorn in Scotland, and Viking in the Humber.

These clusters are designed to establish fully integrated energy hubs, optimising the utilisation of the UK’s well-established infrastructure. They play a pivotal role in the nation’s deliberate and pragmatic approach to achieving net-zero emissions, contributing significantly to the overarching goal of environmental sustainability.

The UK government has made substantial strides in advancing carbon capture clusters in the country’s industrial heartlands, with key developments including:

  1. Commercial Terms with Northern Endurance Partnership (NEP): An agreement on initial commercial terms has been reached with the Northern Endurance Partnership (NEP) in the Teesside and Humber regions. This breakthrough lays the groundwork for the expansion of the existing cluster. The government is poised to evaluate the optimal time for launching an expansion process, slated for 2024, contingent upon an assessment of store readiness in the upcoming year.
  2. Accelerated Setup of Third and Fourth CCUS Clusters: Following the earlier announcement of the locations for the third and fourth Carbon Capture, Usage, and Storage (CCUS) clusters, the government is introducing an expedited process to establish these clusters and identify suitable capture projects. This initiative aims to streamline the setup and operationalization of these clusters, underscoring the commitment to prompt action in the realm of carbon capture technology.