In a move that aims to accelerate the country’s drive towards a Net Zero economy, the UK Government has announced the 20 projects shortlisted for the next stage of the carbon capture, usage, and storage (CCUS) cluster process.

Strategically located next to a carbon capture hotspot, the North Sea, the UK boasts one of the largest potential carbon dioxide (CO2) storage capacities in Europe.  

In 2020 the Prime Minister unveiled his £12bn Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, which highlighted the role that CCS and hydrogen will play in advancing the country’s Net Zero prospects.  

Included within this plan was a strategy to deploy CCUS in two industrial clusters by the mid-2020s, and a further two clusters by 2030.  

Read more: UK drives towards net zero target

Announced today, 12th August, the government has whittled down the 41 eligible projects to release a shortlist of 20 Phase 2 CCUS projects that span the range of CCUS technologies used to prevent CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.  

The announcement follows last November’s selection of the HyNet cluster in North West England and North Wales, and the East Coast Cluster in the Teesside and Humber as Track 1 clusters, for deployment by the mid-2020s.  

The Phase 2 competition is for carbon capture projects that wish to connect to the CO2 transport and storage infrastructure that will be developed through the initial Track 1 clusters.  

The shortlist will see the BEIS providing ‘possible support’ once it has established that the project represent a ‘value for money’ investment for the taxpayer.  

With the support provided in the form of revenue contracts to cover the cost of operating with CCS, shortlisted projects may also obtain access to capital support from either the £1bn CCS Infrastructure Fund (CIF) or the Net Zero Hydrogen Fund.  

Reaction from industry

”…a vital tool in the first aid kit to heal our planet.”

Independent CCS project developer and lead developer of the Scottish Cluster, one of the UK’s most mature CO2 stores, Storegga praised the announcement, calling it another step forwards in establishing a CCS industry in the UK. 

“Carbon storage and removal, alongside efforts to improve energy efficiency and replace fossil fuels, are a vital tool in the first aid kit to heal our planet,” commented Dr. Nick Cooper, CEO of Storegga.  

“We know we have a huge emitter customer demand. Let’s make the storage available as quickly as possible.”  

The announcement was also welcomed by CCUS industry trade body the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA).  

Ruth Herbert, Chief Executive, CCSA, stated that the announcement sends a ‘very strong signal’ that CCUS and Net Zero remains a priority for the UK Government.  

“CCUS is critical in achieving Net Zero and positioning the UK as the world’s first at-scale hydrogen economy.”  

“It will transform our industrial regions – driving jobs and growth through inward investment and export opportunities,” she added.  

According to the Government, this employment growth could see the creation of 50,000 skilled jobs in the UK by 2030.  

Low carbon and hydrogen energy project HyNet North West saw six of its projects given the green light, including the Hanson Padeswood Cement works CCS project, Viridor Runcorn Industrial CCS, and Protos Energy Recovery Facility.  

HyNet told gasworld that the news will result in the project capturing over three million tonnes per year of carbon from energy intensive industry and producing 1GW (gigawatt) of low carbon hydrogen.  

By unlocking over £5bn of investment in HyNet, the project hopes to support the creation of 6,000 new roles, in addition to safeguarding the 340,000 existing manufacturing jobs in the region.  

The next step for the shortlisted projects is expected to be bilateral negotiations with BEIS to finalise the contracts.