UKCCSRC response to Government’s long-term vision for the CCUS Sector – 20th December 2023

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The UKCCSRC welcomes the release today of the UK Government’s long-term vision for the CCUS sector (link) that sets out what the CCUS sector may look like as we transition to a net zero economy by 2050.

The vision involves the development of a CCUS market, with the roles of government and industry evolving over time in three stages:

  1. Market creation: Getting to 20 to 30 Mt CO₂ by 2030
  2. Market transition: The emergence of a commercial and competitive market
  3. A self-sustaining CCUS market: Meeting net zero by 2050

Further updates today mark significant progress across the first four UK clusters:

  • Launch of the Track-1 Expansion process in HyNet  (Link)
  • The agreement of Heads of Terms with the T&SCo in the East Coast Cluster (ECC) and next steps for expanding the cluster
  • An update on Track-2 (Link)
  • An update on the Greenhouse Gas Removals (GGR) and Power BECCS business models, including indicative heads of terms for the GGR business model and an independent report on GGR standards (Link)

As our Director, Jon Gibbins, notes, “This announcement of evolving roles for government and industry also needs to be mirrored in evolving roles for the UK’s world-leading academic CCS research community and for its research funders, to reflect the new opportunities for underpinning research linked to learning-by-doing and consequent cost reduction and wealth creation.”

The UKCCSRC has provided over 10 years of world-leading CCS research through its programme of flexible funding, with 77 research projects funded to date supporting the UK academic community to deliver their specialised research. We continually foster collaboration and knowledge exchange between all CCS stakeholders through our ongoing programme of events, webinars, workshops and extensive website resources.  We also build capacity with our ECR programme, supporting CCS Early Career Researchers in their journeys to progress into academic, industry, government and NGO roles.

       

Future underpinning research for CCS will largely lie in ‘Pasteur’s Quadrant’ of ‘use-inspired basic research’ (left), where fundamental research is triggered by real-world questions that are often much more stimulating than the imaginary ones posed by researchers themselves. The diagram on the right shows how large-scale technologies, such as those involved in CCS, really get made fully commercially mature, by decades of Commercial Readiness Index improvements in use, after examples of the overall technology have already reached TRL 9. This incremental development involves a great deal of ‘use-inspired basic research’ at all stages.

Continued investment in specialised CCS research and knowledge exchange, delivered by UK academic CCS experts and other specialists recruited into the field, is needed to bring down the costs of delivering CCS, along with capacity building to continue developing the future CCS leaders. Now that there is industry to engage with, the UKCCSRC is looking for closer engagement and to continue to foster these relationships and collaborations.

Twenty CO2 capture projects have been named that have met the eligibility criteria for the BEIS Phase 2 selection process, out of forty-one applicants.  These will now proceed to the due diligence stage of the Phase 2 Cluster Sequencing process, where metrics such as the detailed value-for-money proposition for the UK will be assessed.  The projects themselves will also be working hard to complete front end engineering studies and other arrangements so they are ready to make final investments decisions if they receive funding offers from the government – noting that the small print says “This shortlist does not imply availability of funding for any or all of the shortlisted projects, but is purely the outcome of assessment against the Phase 2 criteria.”

This is a significant step in progressing UK CCS ambitions to have four CCS clusters in place by 2030.  There is obviously still a lot of additional work – by government, regulators and industry – to be done to achieve this, starting with identifying additional, Track 2, clusters and projects, as well as bringing some of these first projects to successful completion.

What this announcement does, however, is focus attention on some real examples of putting CO2 capture knowledge into practice, and this will highlight applications for existing expertise as well as areas where additional information might be useful in the future.  All of the successful Phase 2 projects will be invited to participate in the forthcoming UKCCSRC Conference on 7-8 September in Edinburgh and contribute to the interesting discussions that can be expected there.