CCUS Vision: UK announces carbon capture strategy to seize global market

UK Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho has announced an ambitious carbon capture strategy to position the nation as a global leader in the sector.

The strategy, known as CCUS Vision, details the path the UK will take to become a competitive market in Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage by 2035.

CCUS Vision aims to enable government-backed projects to develop carbon capture facilities that can become profitable on the global stage.

This initiative is expected to bring in £5bn annually to the economy by 2050 and is the latest in a string of investments into the sector, with the government recently financing £20bn to advance carbon capture technologies.

It is expected this will help to store 20-30 million tonnes of CO2 per year and support 50,000 jobs by 2030.

Coutinho commented: “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.”

What is carbon capture?

Carbon capture refers to the process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions produced from various sources like power plants, industrial facilities, or even directly from the atmosphere.

The aim is to prevent these emissions from entering the atmosphere and contributing to global warming and climate change.

There are different methods of carbon capture, but the primary ones involve trapping CO2 at the source before it’s released into the air. This can be done using various technologies like absorption, adsorption, or membrane processes.

Once captured, the CO2 is often compressed and transported to storage sites where it can be stored underground, typically in geological formations like depleted oil and gas reservoirs or deep saline aquifers.

Carbon capture plays a crucial role in mitigating climate change by reducing the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere.

© shutterstock/BOY ANTHONY

It’s seen as a key technology in efforts to achieve climate goals, especially in industries where reducing emissions at the source is particularly challenging.

The UK possesses a distinct strategic edge over other nations due to its exceptional geology, specialised skills, and robust infrastructure as an island nation.

Additionally, it boasts an extensive expanse beneath the North Sea, capable of accommodating up to 78 billion tonnes of CO2, providing ample storage capacity for carbon dioxide.

The CCUS Vision plans looks to capitalise on the UK’s unique composition and expertise.

Capturing the global market

CCUS Vision aims to establish a competitive carbon capture, utilisation, and storage market by 2035. Key measures include transitioning to a competitive allocation process for carbon capture projects by 2027, accelerating the growth of the UK’s CCUS sector.

Additionally, enabling projects unable to transport CO2 via pipelines to enter the market by 2025 using alternative transport like ships, roads, and rails is part of the strategy. A dedicated industry-led group will focus on reducing CO2 capture costs.

Recent announcements have expanded the UK’s carbon capture clusters to four: HyNet in Northwest England, East Coast Cluster in Teesside and the Humber, Acorn in Scotland, and Viking in the Humber.

These clusters will form integrated energy hubs leveraging existing infrastructure, bolstering the nation’s strategy towards achieving net zero emissions.

Furthermore, the government has made strides in advancing these clusters in industrial heartlands. This progress involves establishing initial commercial terms with the Northern Endurance Partnership (NEP) around Teesside and the Humber, paving the way for cluster expansion.

These initiatives underscore the UK’s commitment to sustainable decarbonisation and transitioning to cleaner energy sources.

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