UKCCSRC Spring 2023 Conference – Keynote sessions (ECR Meeting Fund)

Matthew Potter (UCL) and Jacqueline Penn (Newcastle University) share their perspectives on the opening and closing sessions of the UKCCSRC Spring 2023 Conference on “CCS from geographically dispersed industries”.

Welcome, Introductions and Opening Keynote Speech

The conference started with a feeling of optimism and excitement amongst delegates and speakers alike, due to the imminent announcement the following day about how the government would be distributing £20 billion worth of funds for carbon capture!

Richard Marsh (Cardiff University) welcomed the UKCCSRC community to Cardiff and emphasised the importance of collaboration among the CCUS community, between academia, industry and government, highlighting the work from the South Wales Industrial Cluster (SWIC). The need for carbon utilisation was discussed, particularly in South Wales, which has very little geological storage, and the importance of introducing hydrogen into the national grid.

Jon Gibbins (University of Sheffield) then discussed CCUS investment in the UK and highlighted the issue of perception of CCUS. As a community, we recognise the importance of CCUS, but it does not lead to a usable product or give any immediate economic benefits, although it is still vital to maintain and improve society on a global scale. As a result, we know CCS must be deployed worldwide and requires support from all.

Luke Bailey, a Senior Policy Advisor from the UK Government’s Department of Energy Security and Net Zero gave the opening keynote presentation. The talk had a strong message throughout that CCUS is a necessity, not an option, to meet our net zero commitments as a country, and that the UK as a whole has the capacity to store over 78 Gigatonnes of captured CO2. This puts us in an excellent position for leading the way on CCUS. The importance of the two UK Clusters – HyNet and East Coast Cluster – and a further two separate clusters by 2030, will also be established. It was highlighted that these clusters are already multi-faceted, each with different challenges and business models. As such, no two clusters will be the same, and everything in the CCUS supply chain needs to be individually considered. In keeping with the theme of the conference, it was mentioned that both clusters and dispersed sites need to be developed and engaged with to achieve our net zero targets.

Closing Keynote Speech

Bryony Livesey, leader of the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge (IDC) at UKRI, delivered an uplifting closing keynote speech. The speech started with an overview of the £210 million of public funding to support the development of low carbon infrastructure in the UK. Because roughly half of UK CCS emissions can be grouped into the six main clusters, the design of CCS, the UK’s CCS network has started in these areas. The plans from all six clusters were published in March 2023 and are available online. This has been made possible thanks to the accelerated policy support from the UK government.

The next step is to consider the dispersed CO2 emitters and how their CCS needs can be met, ensuring that businesses are not penalised for being located outside of a main cluster. There are several options for connecting dispersed emitters including by pipeline, road, rail and ship. There is no blueprint for connecting dispersed emitters yet, but the Black Country Cluster plans give a good example for decarbonisation of industries not located near a CO2 offshore pipeline or port. In February 2023, the IDC announced the Local Industrial Decarbonisation Plans (LIDP) competition with £5 million in funding available to support dispersed emitters. The aim is to bring together business and communities outside the clusters to develop decarbonisation plans. An announcement with further information about this competition is coming soon.

The speech closed with a look forward to what’s next for the IDC before all of their projects are due to end in March 2024. Their next project is to bring together all the work that has been done in developing the clusters, to give an overview of UK-wide decarbonisation infrastructure that has been developed in the cluster sequencing process. Another important goal is developing a strategy for knowledge sharing for future CCS projects.