The UK government has unveiled ambitious plans to establish a competitive carbon capture, usage, and storage (CCUS) market in the country by 2035, signalling a green economic boost. In a strategy named the CCUS Vision, the Energy Secretary outlined the transition from government-backed early projects to a competitive market, where UK companies will vie to construct carbon capture facilities and offer services globally.
The unique geology, skills, and infrastructure of the island nation, along with the ample storage space beneath the North Sea for up to 78 billion tonnes of CO2, provide a strategic advantage.
The plan aims to store 20-30 million tonnes of CO2 yearly by 2030, supporting 50,000 jobs and backed by up to £20 billion in investment. The CCUS Vision includes measures such as transitioning to a competitive allocation process for carbon capture projects by 2027, allowing alternative forms of transport like ships, roads, and rails for projects unable to use pipelines from 2025 onwards, and establishing an industry-led working group to identify cost-effective CO2 capture solutions.
As part of the plan, the UK government is progressing the development of four carbon capture clusters – HyNet in North West England, East Coast Cluster in Teesside and the Humber, Acorn in Scotland, and Viking in the Humber. These clusters will create integrated energy hubs leveraging existing infrastructure, aligning with the UK’s approach to achieving net zero.
Furthermore, significant progress has been announced, including the agreement of initial commercial terms with the Northern Endurance Partnership (NEP) around Teesside and the Humber. The government is considering the best time to launch an expansion process for this cluster in 2024. Simultaneously, a faster process is being initiated to establish the third and fourth CCUS clusters, with suitable capture projects identified.