The United Kingdom is in the right place to become a global leader in the industrial Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) sector. Specific, UK associated industrial development has set a great potential for Industrial Carbon Capture (ICC) application. In fact, the operation of Oil and Gas (O&G) offshore fields has allowed for decades of data on suitable carbon storage sites to be collected, determining that the North Sea’s saline aquifers and depleted reservoirs have a 78,000 MtCO2 capacity.
According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) latest energy outlook, CCUS will undertake a significant role in the world transition to net zero. Specifically, it is stated that to meet a Net Zero Emissions (NZE) scenario there must be an increasing carbon capture installed capacity of 1.2 Gt per year in 2030 and 6.2 Gt per year in 2050, thus doing its part in offsetting anthropogenic carbon equivalent emissions.
Building a UK CCUS strategy and its progress
The UK was one of the first nations to set national emission reduction targets, and identified CCUS as a key technology to abate industrial emissions more than 20 years ago. Since then it has developed several plans and released policy papers to determine the potential contexts of ICC applicability, and its overall costs and efficiency. Most of these attempts were subsequently cancelled or failed to deliver competitive CCUS solutions due to political or economic issues. Nevertheless, it was possible to determine that, to deliver a cost-effective ICC with offshore storage, an economy of scale is required where a cluster with five or more carbon emission source units and large-scale pipeline and storage infrastructure (>10MtCO2/year) are indispensable. The current UK plans for CCUS deployment can be distinguished from previous experiences at incorporating learned lessons and political commitment.