CCUS for the UK – the scale of the opportunity

Stuart Broadley, Chief Executive Officer, Energy Industries Council

With the introduction of a net-zero target for greenhouse gases for the UK earlier this year, carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) has been considered a key decarbonisation tool for the industrial and power generation sectors in the UK. There is a growing consensus that the technology will be indispensable if the UK is to meet this target, a view backed by the Committee on Climate Change which calls CCUS “a necessity not an option”.

With this strong backing, alongside policy support from the UK Government through its Clean Growth Strategy and CCUS Action Plan, attention now moves to how the UK will deploy the technology. The UK’s expansive geological storage resource and existing infrastructure, as well as a world-class oil and gas supply chain, mean that the UK is in a unique position to lead the world in the development of a new CCUS industry and build a market for low carbon products and services both domestically and internationally.

There are innovative companies across the UK that are already developing cutting edge CCUS technologies, companies such as C-Capture, Carbon8 and Origen Power. And the UK’s world-leading academic and research base puts the country in a strong position to build the knowledge, skills, technologies that will be required to take forward the pipeline of projects that are planned and under development across the UK.

However, there are challenges that need to be addressed in the sector – mainly focussed on commercial rather than technical issues. The current high costs of CCUS present a major barrier to adoption by industries that will need to remain internationally competitive, but stakeholders are optimistic about the potential for costs to fall and expect this to arise largely through deployment itself, rather than further research and development.

Through this deployment, new markets for UK businesses internationally can emerge. CCUS exports could potentially be worth multiple billions of pounds per year in the UK by 2050, particularly in engineering, procurement and construction services, and with the potential to store more than 70 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide at its offshore fields, the UK can make itself a world leader in storage services.