The UK’s first-ever carbon storage (CS) licensing round formally kicked off yesterday, in a move that marks a major step forward for plans to capture 20 to 30 million tons of CO2 a year from a series of low carbon industrial clusters.
Launched by the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), the licensing round will cover 13 areas across the UK, including zones off the coast of Aberdeen, Teesside, Liverpool, and Lincolnshire in the Southern North Sea, Central North Sea, Northern North Sea, and East Irish Sea. The areas offered up for carbon storage licenses include a mixture of saline aquifers and depleted oil and gas field storage.
The NTSA expects the round to be the first of many as it is estimated that as many as 100 CO2 stores could be required in order to meet the UK’s net zero by 2050 target.
“Carbon storage is going to be needed across the world,” said Andy Samuel, chief executive of the NTSA. “There is growing investor appetite and we are keen to accelerate development of the carbon storage sector so that UK is well-positioned to be a global. In addition to the huge environmental benefits of significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, the facilities will provide opportunities for many thousands of highly-skilled jobs.”
The news was welcomed by Dr Nick Cooper, CEO of carbon capture specialist Storegga, who said: “The North Sea is a valuable asset. It gives us a real opportunity to take CO2 out of the atmosphere at scale and store this CO2 safely deep in the rocks under the North Sea. We already have the technology, the capability and the resources”.
The UK and Norway possess the majority of the CO2 storage capacity for Europe and Cooper predicted the licensing round would begin “a revolution that will reverse the carbon cycle”.
His comments came as Storegga called on the government to accelerate the development of a ‘climate repair industry’ in the UK to “create wealth and support regions affected acutely by the cost-of-living crisis”.
Responding to the Department for Business, Responding Energy & Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) consultation on plans for the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), the firm said including Direct Air Capture and Storage (DACS) technologies, alongside other greenhouse gas removal (GGR) technologies and projects, in the ETS would be essential to meeting the UK’s net zero emission commitments. Providing backing to the development of Europe’s first commercial scale DACS plant in Aberdeen, for example, could support up to 3,500 construction and operational jobs in the surrounding areas, the company said.
Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands said the NSTA move would help “reduce emissions and protect the viability and competitiveness of British industry”.
The NSTA, The Crown Estate, and Crown Estate Scotland recently published a joint statement explaining how they intend to work together, while the NSTA has separately agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ofgem, which will act as the economic regulator for the storage and storage of carbon dioxide.