UK must work faster on CCUS and plan beyond 2030 reports Net Zero review

The UK government must work rapidly to re-envisage and implement a clear carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) roadmap, showing the plan beyond 2030, according to a Net Zero review published today.

The Mission Zero review, which makes 129 recommendations and spans over 300 pages, acknowledges the allocation of CCUS contracts has been overly constrained, with industry keen to have a more streamlined process for cluster selection and subsequent phases. This year HM Treasury should set out the funding envelope available to support Track-1 CCUS clusters, it notes.

“Leading CCUS stakeholders such as the CCSA and Shell have told us that the lack of a clear route for deployment beyond Track 1 clusters, and phase 1 projects within these clusters, could damage the UK’s progress,” it states.

There is also specific uncertainty around the growth of carbon dioxide (CO2) storage. The capacity for transport and storage networks to accept CO2 from dispersed sites and international sources will be vital for the UK’s carbon budgets and reaching Net Zero.

The importance of long termism is important to attract investment into storage sites, which have a six-to-10-year lead time, and requires government signals and a clear route to market. By 2024, government must develop a strategy for the plan for non-pipeline transport and how dispersed sites and mini clusters can connect to the CCS network and what support should be offered for doing so.

“As part of the roadmap, government should take a pragmatic approach to cluster selection. This means allowing the most advanced clusters to progress more quickly,
recognising that the roll out of ‘first of a kind’ projects will carry a degree of risk,” it reports.

The roadmap should also explore how the UK can utilise its natural CO2 storage facilities for export.

The review adds that government should consider setting a 10% storage obligation target to fossil fuel producers operating domestically, to restore CO2 to the geosphere by at least 2035, separate to any investment on nature-based solutions.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “The government should use the recommendations of this review to produce an updated and strengthened Net Zero Strategy early this year. It should also crack on with some of the most pressing policy recommendations highlighted in the report, such as on grid infrastructure, full power sector decarbonisation, energy efficiency in homes, resource efficiency, and business models to support the roll out of CCS, hydrogen and other low carbon solutions urgently needed by heavy industry.”

Aniruddha Sharma, CEO of Carbon Clean, the UK’s largest independent carbon capture business, said Mission Zero is absolutely right to emphasise the UK’s comparative advantage over other advanced economies in several key areas – including CCS.

“This presents a unique opportunity for the UK to capitalise on export opportunities from the global transition,” he said.

“In order to remain competitive, the UK must quickly match the long-term funding certainty that the Inflation Reduction Act has brought in the US and we applaud the clear path outlined in this report. We hope and expect the UK government will now take this path and grasp this historic opportunity.”

In its Net Zero Strategy released in 2021, the UK Government laid out its plans to move away from fossil fuels, secure energy supplies, and reduce carbon emissions. Having reviewed the Government’s progress, the independent Climate Change Committee (CCC) discovered ‘major failures’ in delivery of the plan’s goals last summer (click here).

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