This article will discuss carbon capture in the UK and investigate the ambitions, strategy, and challenges behind the deployment of carbon capture technology. It will also delve into the key players in the market and the key projects of interest. Carbon capture is a way to reduce carbon emissions by capturing carbon dioxide emanating from industrial processes and storing it deep underground. This technology is crucial in the UK’s quest to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
Ambition & Strategy:
The government unveiled the “Powering up Britain” plan on 30th March 2023, which lays out the plan of action to ensure energy security and to deliver on net-zero commitments. Considering carbon capture, the government announced that it is negotiating to set up 8 track-1 capture projects and will launch a process to bring in additional projects within the track-1 cluster by 2030. Furthermore, the government is also launching a process to confirm the next group to be part of Track 2.
The ambition is to achieve 20-30 million tonnes per annum of carbon storage and four operational carbon capture, utilisation, and storage clusters (CCUS) by 2030. The United Kingdom’s master plan is to push for cost decline to deploy the technology at a sizable scale in the 2030s. The government announced an investment of 1 billion pounds to support four industrial clusters in 2021.
The East Coast cluster and HyNet project are part of track 1 and may become fully operational in the mid-2020s, with four groups expected to be operational by 2030. Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Energy and Net Zero, has announced that the government plans to invest 20 billion pounds to build carbon capture technology over the next two decades.
Dr Christian Munoz, Research Fellow at the Center for Energy Policy, University of Strathclyde, points out that the great challenge is that carbon capture should not become a license to keep using fossil fuels.
The second challenge is concerned with capturing and storing carbon. It is costly due to the capital-intensive nature of the technology. In addition, storing carbon dioxide poses several challenges, including the scalability of the technology, monitoring of the activity, and addressing potential leakages,
The third key challenge stated by Dr Oluwafisayo Alabi, Research Fellow at the Center for Energy Policy, University of Strathclyde, is to understand the economic opportunities created by carbon capture and storage. Targeted action by the government is essential to utilise existing and upcoming resources.
The fourth challenge is uncertainty regarding how safe carbon capture is and how effective it is to enable the country to achieve carbon neutrality. With government support, the country can overcome the obstacles.
- Carbon Clean, founded in 2009, and headquartered in London, offers carbon capture to industrial emitters and is fit to serve small and large facilities.
- Aker Carbon Capture UK, based in Leeds, won the first UK carbon capture storage competition in 2011. They use carbon capture and operate in offshore wind and the hydrogen market.
- C-capture, founded in 2009, and headquartered in Leeds, has a patented technology enabling it to offer a safe and low-cost way to capture carbon from the air.
- Forest Carbon, based in Edinburgh, uses tree plantations to offset carbon emissions.
- Climate Partner, headquartered in London, is an environmental consultant who helps organisations measure and reduce carbon emissions.
The Secretary of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Grant Shapps, approved Keadby 3, the first-ever carbon capture power station based in North Lincolnshire. The plant has a generating capacity of 910 Megawatt, and it can capture up to 1.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air annually.
The East Coast Cluster projects:
- Net Zero Teesside Power
- Teesside Hydrogen Co2 capture
The Northern Endurance Partnership, an energy group consisting of BP, Eni, Equinor, Shell, and Total Energies, is responsible for developing the East Coast cluster in partnership with Zero Carbon Humber and Net Zero Teesside. The goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 27 million tonnes annually by 2030.
The HyNet cluster projects:
- Hanson Padeswood Cement Works Carbon Capture and Storage Project
- Viridor Runcorn Industrial CCS
- Protos Energy Recovery Facility
- Buxton Lime Net Zero
- HyNet Hydrogen Production Plant 1 (HPP1)
The HyNet project is in North-western England and Northern Wales, built by oil companies such as Eni and Progressive Energy to reduce carbon emissions by 10 million tonnes a year by 2030.
The article discusses carbon capture, the UK government’s ambitions and strategy, and the challenges. Furthermore, I have mentioned operators in the carbon capture, usage, and storage market segment and projects built in the country. The key lesson is that significant efforts are necessary for the UK to reach net zero by 2050.