UK Launches Market Study on Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage

UK carbon storage study
UK's offshore oil platforms could play a role in the development of the carbon storage industry (Crown Estate photo)

Published Mar 7, 2023 7:43 PM by The Maritime Executive

After having moved aggressively in the development of offshore wind and becoming one of the countries with the largest offshore industries, the UK is now working to build its carbon utilization and storage industry. The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland today started the first round of formal engagement with developers on Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS), launching a joint survey to explore and understand market requirements for future seabed and subsurface carbon store development.

The UK Government has announced its target to have four active carbon stores in its waters by 2030. These sites would be in the areas managed by the two branches of the Crown Estate and as such the organizations are working to understand the emerging industry. They seek to develop best practices to facilitate the development of the industry while collaborating with the many users of the seabed, and taking a coordinated approach to its management.

“The UK is at a critical juncture for CCUS development, and we must continue the momentum toward our goals for 2030,” said Nicola Clay, Head of The Crown Estate New Ventures for Marine. “CCUS development is key to how we unlock the full potential of the UK seabed and its contribution to building a net zero future.”

The two divisions of the Crown Estate called today’s step an important milestone in the UK’s CCUS journey, with the results expected to shape future strategy for carbon store leasing. The survey will seek input on the number of stores, capacity levels, and annual injection rates that developers might seek to have in place by 2035 and by 2050. They are also seeking input on the opportunities and challenges to meeting the goals for CCS.

“We are already enabling the decarbonization of the UK’s energy network by supporting the leasing of offshore wind,” said Philippa Parmiter, Gas Storage Development Manager for Crown Estate Scotland. “CCUS is another key ingredient in helping to achieve a net-zero future, and this engagement program will help bring that ambition closer.”

They said the joint exercise is designed to help reduce the number of market engagement responses for developers and drive momentum toward setting leasing round requirements. Feedback will be shared with the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), which is responsible for carbon capture licensing, and The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland will publish a summary of the main findings of these engagements.

Both organizations are working to understand market expectations on CO2 storage, and to support the Scottish and UK Governments' target dates of 2045 and 2050 to meet net-zero carbon emissions. Combined with other renewable technologies, such as fixed and floating offshore wind, they believe CCUS will play a key role in decarbonizing the UK economy by supporting power generation and heavy industry with hard-to-abate emissions, mitigating the effects of CO2 on the atmosphere.