(OET) With decarbonisation being seen as one of the biggest challenges facing the energy industry today, Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) has outlined that the recently offered carbon storage licences signify the country could bury 30 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2030 and become a renowned mover and shaker in decarbonisation technology.
After the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) offered 12 companies awards for 20 carbon storage licenses in the UK’s first-ever CO2 storage licensing round – launched in June 2022, with applications closing in September – OEUK interprets the decision to offer 13 areas off the UK’s coast as sites for permanently storing millions of tonnes of CO2 to mean that the UK could pioneer a technology that would be “essential” in the fight against climate change.
The licences cover 12,000 square kilometres at offshore sites near Aberdeen, Teesside, Liverpool, and Lincolnshire, with some of the sites expected to be in operation in as little as six years, reducing the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions by up to 10 per cent. OEUK believes that this carbon storage licensing round is likely to be the first of many, as it is estimated up to 100 CO2 stores could be needed for the UK to meet net-zero by 2050.
David Whitehouse, OEUK’s Chief Executive Officer, commented: “Carbon capture will be a key tool in the global fight against climate change. These pioneering projects can create a wave of new jobs across the country, provide new opportunities for UK businesses at home and abroad, and maintain our world-leading action to reach net zero.
“The UK’s offshore oil and gas industry has the expertise needed to make carbon storage a success – and these licence awards can showcase our heritage of energy production skills to the world. If we get this right, it will not only help the decarbonisation of heavy industry, power generation and manufacturing globally but also create growth and export opportunity for industrial communities across the UK.”
Offshore Energies UK explains that the carbon capture and storage (CCS) process involves the capture of CO2 emissions from industrial processes, such as electricity generation or steel production, which typically use fuels like gas, oil or coal. The CO2 created by burning such fuels is captured, compressed into a liquid, and then injected into deep underground rocks – generally more than 800 metres deep.
Furthermore, OEUK highlights that the seabeds around the UK contain rock formations with the potential to hold up to 78 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of two centuries’ worth of the UK’s emissions today and one of the biggest storage capacities in Europe.
“We will need 100 such sites or more, and the Track 1 and 2 clusters to be accelerated, if we are to reach net-zero – so we mustn’t stop here. We look forward to the government’s continued support for CCUS to make sure the UK secures a leadership position in this exciting new sector,” concluded Whitehouse.
While the carbon capture and storage opportunity could be worth £100 billion to the UK’s energy supply chain by 2050, the NSTA’s offer follows the UK government’s announcement of allocating up to £20 billion in support of developing carbon capture, usage, and storage (CCUS), starting with projects in the East Coast, Merseyside, and North Wales.
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