Trade body CCSA sets out 10-point plan for driving development of carbon capture infrastructure at industrial sites across the UK

The UK has a matter of months left to bring carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects to a commercial stage of readiness and respond to skills shortages across the fledgling industry, if carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technologies are to help the country hit its net zero targets as planned.

That is the warning issued today by the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA), which has this morning published a CCUS Delivery Plan 2035 that sets out a 10 point plan for ensuring long-awaited commercial CCS projects are actually delivered over the coming decade.

The plan sets out how the industry could deliver on the government’s ambition, contained in its overarching Net Zero Strategy, to ensure the UK can store 50 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year by 2035.

The 10 point plan features a range of recommendations for both policymakers and businesses, which the CCSA argues need to be enacted over the next 12 months, including introducing legislation to underpin the policies that would allow a number projects currently in the pipeline to develop at pace, identifying product and skills areas that can be prioritised for investment, and accelerating the permitting and construction of infrastructure to support the roll out of CCUS.

The report also calls on government and industry to develop a communications strategy to help build and maintain public support for carbon capture projects.

The government has said it intends to support at least two world-leading Net Zero Industrial Hubs in the UK, which will bring together carbon capture and hydrogen technologies to help decarbonise industrial sites. Projects on the east coast and the north west have been selected for support, while the Scottish government has stepped in to support a separate proposed project on Scotland’s east coast.

However, the wide-ranging coalitions of companies working on the projects have repeatedly warned that they will not be able to reach a final investment decision and mobilise the billions of pounds required to deliver the underlying CCS infrastructure unless the government provide clarity on the policy environment in which the projects will operate and the level of financial support they can expect.

Ruth Herbert, chief executive at the CCSA, said that for the sector to continue investing in the pipeline of CCUS projects, it needed government to commit to regular contract allocation rounds, with an overarching target and budget, similar to that provided for renewables projects, which would provide developers with confidence they could secure a return on their investment.

She added that urgent action was needed if the UK was to have a feasible route for decarbonising heavy industry and achieving net zero emissions.

“Our recommended build-out rate would provide a route to decarbonisation for all of our industrial regions and mean that we could rely on our own industries such as clean steel, clean cement and clean hydrogen for the net zero transition,” she said.

Herbert also argued that by following the recommendations contained in the CCUS Delivery Plan 2035, the industry could go further than the government’s own net zero targets and provide a template for countries around the world to follow.

“In this report, the UK’s CCUS industry has responded to the government’s Net Zero Strategy,” she said. “We have collected data from a pipeline of carbon capture projects across the UK that together could prevent 70 million tonnes of emissions every year, if Government commits to further CO2 storage and transport infrastructure development pre-2030.”

Peter Whitton, managing director of Progressive Energy and vice-chair of the CCSA Board, said the government had helped provide the foundations for the industry to build on, but urgent further action was now required.

“The government is putting in place a solid policy framework to support delivery of decarbonisation of industrial clusters such as HyNet in the North West and the East Coast Cluster,” he said. “However, further impetus is urgently required to secure the full benefits, in addition to enabling more clusters across the UK to develop similar CCUS and hydrogen infrastructure. The evidence from the lead clusters proves that existing industry will invest, if policy allows. The result will be a significant economic stimulus and we therefore strongly support the CCSA’s delivery plan.”

A report from the LSE’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, published last year suggested that the emerging CCUS industry could play an important role in the government’s levelling up agenda.

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