UKCCSRC Spring 2023 Conference – Plenary 1 “UK, European and International challenges” (ECR Meeting Fund)

Mikhail Gorbounov (University College London), Lucas Joel (University of Sheffield) and Fayez Qureshi (Cranfield University) provide an insight into Plenary session 1 “UK, European and International challenges” at the UKCCSRC Spring 2023 Conference on “CCS from geographically dispersed industries”.

Four speakers from around the globe provided insights regarding the challenges facing the UK, Europe, and International systems in delivering CCS from geographically dispersed industries.

Dr Aaron Goater (Senior Manager at Baringa) presented the challenges between dispersed sites mainly focusing on the UK context. These were broadly classified into three main points. Firstly, cost/economics play a major role and there is a need for stronger policy support. Moreover, there is a competitiveness factor present with the non/less-dispersed sites. Secondly, the infrastructure constraints like pipelines and shipping costs for the transport of CO2 makes it challenging in the UK. Finally, the impact on local environment and planning permission that can be related to clusters near major ports. It was highlighted that keeping the public onboard is crucial for delivering CCS from geographically dispersed industries, especially if sites need to move location to be closer to CO2 networks.

Toby Lockwood (Technology and Markets Director, Carbon Capture Europe at Clean Air Task Force) then presented the key challenges in Europe to our research community. He summarized that geographically dispersed industries will benefit from a renewed focus on wider EU storage development, and Net Zero Industry Act (NZIA) will be the key to driving it. However, this will need an extensive cross-border transport network to establish a level playing field for decarbonization that is not limited to specific regions. Ultimately, there will be more focus on the regulatory framework and technical standards for CO2 transport networks.

Toby emphasized that mainland Europe mainly relies on shipping to transport CO2 to offshore storage, as demonstrated by the Northern Lights project, together with the fact that it is currently illegal to store CO2 onshore in Germany and Poland. However, some countries (e.g Poland or France) do not have a coastal storage option, so they plan to use pipelines or trains to deliver CCS for their lime and cement plants. An interesting tool to see the CO2 transport costs in Europe was also presented. It can be found at www.CATF.US/CCS-cost-tool .

(L-R) Julia Race, Toby Lockwood, Aaron Goater, Tim Dixon, Jasmin Kemper, Xi Liang

Xi Liang (University College London and Guandong CCUS) provided a perspective on CCS within the context of China. Xi noted that CCS in China was initially set up in 2013 but, recently, their government has ramped up its 2060 aims, with over 100 projects proposed in 2022. Storage in China is set to be either in saline aquifers or used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR), with a capacity for 7 million tonnes CO2 per year. This will largely use either the Carbfix method, or Tenant technology for basalt storage, which are both being investigated for use in China.

Finally, Tim Dixon and Jasmin Kemper (IEAGHG) gave a perspective on maritime issues in CCS. They highlighted that global agreements regulating disposal of waste at sea (such as the London Protocol) did not cover exports to other countries that would dump/store the waste in the sea, including CO2 export for offshore storage, until 2019. It is now permitted, which means that Norway’s Northern Lights project is able to go ahead. Within weeks of this change, the project got the green light, and it already has a memorandum of understandings with seven different sites. The first EU hub project could set the de facto standard of CO2 purity, so that when two streams with different origins mix, random impurities will not be expected to contaminate the CO2.

In conclusion, delivering CCS from geographically dispersed industries is a complex challenge requiring collaboration and innovation across multiple sectors. While progress is being made in various parts of the world, significant obstacles remain, such as the question of the optimal transport method for CO2, in addition to regulatory and public acceptance issues. Nonetheless, it is clear that CCS is an essential tool for achieving net-zero carbon emissions, and it is encouraging to see experts from around the world coming together to tackle these challenges head-on.