With recent record high temperatures at both of the Earth’s poles, it is clear that we cannot afford another moment of delay in combating the climate emergency.
Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) is a crucial tool in addressing this emergency, and I believe we can deliver the scale of CCUS required to meet the UK’s Net Zero pathway, rapidly reducing our emissions and leading in the development of this vital low-carbon technology.
In November 2021, the UK Government published its Net Zero Strategy which set a target for reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions to 78% below 1990 levels by 2035 – in line with the Sixth Carbon Budget. The strategy sets out pathways for the deployment of low-carbon technologies that can deliver the deep cuts in our emissions required over the coming decades.
Carbon Capture has been around for decades and when combined with permanent storage, it can be used to abate emissions at source or remove greenhouse gases directly from the atmosphere. The Net Zero Strategy envisages that the UK will need to store up to 30 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2030, rising to at least 50 million tonnes a year by 2035 to remain on a pathway consistent with achieving Net Zero by 2050.
The strategy includes a number of envisaged pathways for capture and storage of emissions from power, industrial and hydrogen production plants, as well as for greenhouse gas removals through Bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) and Direct Air Carbon Capture and Storage (DACCS). The Net Zero Strategy also requires the UK power sector to be fully decarbonised by 2035, subject to security of supply, and this will require a proportion of carbon capture on gas-fired power stations and switching to CCUS-enabled (blue) hydrogen.
Ambition and government strategies are one thing. Delivery is another. Our CCUS Delivery Plan 2035 is the industry’s response to these ambitions. We can and must deliver, and we need to act now to stay on the pathway to meeting the Sixth Carbon Budget.
Only by building all the major projects currently under consideration in CCUS clusters and deploying CO2 shipping and other non-pipeline transport solutions alongside rapid CO2 pipeline network and storage development, can we meet the UK Governments 2035 ambition. Given the long lead in times for this infrastructure, the clear message from industry is that ‘2035’ is essentially ‘now’ in terms of the urgent need to plan the roll-out of CCUS across all regions in the UK.
CCUS is crucial for the competitiveness of the UK. Deploying CCUS in all of our industrial heartlands will provide an opportunity to lead the global green industrial revolution and reduce our reliance on imports with new UK products, such as clean steel, clean cement and clean hydrogen, and attract inward investment through our offer of a clear route to decarbonisation for heavy industries. As one of the first movers on CCUS, there is also a huge opportunity to exploit our world-leading skills and plentiful offshore storage capacity to offer decarbonisation services to Europe.
Providing there is more clarity on greenhouse gas removals and non-pipeline transport, the work on business models looks set to deliver a viable investment framework. What is now required to unlock that investment, and further develop the CCUS project pipeline, is a UK Government commitment to a steady build-out rate through a multi-year programme of contract allocation rounds, similar to the 2013 Electricity Market Reform (EMR) Delivery Plan that enabled the scale up and cost reduction seen in offshore wind over the last decade.
I believe by bringing together the CCUS industry, UK Government and other stakeholders we can make this vision a reality. By implementing the actions set out in the CCUS Delivery Plan 2035 we can play a leading role in combating the climate emergency and give our industrial regions the opportunity to lead the green industrial revolution.
The time to deliver CCUS is now.
For more information, read the full ‘CCUS Delivery Plan 2035’, watch the ‘Delivery Plan Animation’ and for further insight be sure to watch an overview discussion of the report from the CCUS APPG chaired by Alex Cunningham MP which is available on demand on our website.