Core Research Projects: Systems & Policy, CB1 – Social license to operate


Key facts about this core research project

Theme: Systems & Policy
Researchers: Dr Clair Gough, Dr Sarah Mander
Institution: Tyndall Centre at the University of Manchester
Start date: 2017

Why is this research needed?

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been identified as a key element of the UK’s options for reducing its CO2 emissions. With the potential to support decarbonisation across the whole energy system, including industry, heat and transport, and the prospect of delivering carbon dioxide removal (CDR) through coupling biomass energy with CCUS (BECCS), CCUS is critical to achieving the UK’s net zero greenhouse gas emissions target and the global 1.5°C aspiration set out in the Paris Agreement. CCS deployment in the UK sits within its industrial decarbonisation strategy which has identified six industrial clusters, with the aim of bringing emissions within these clusters to net zero.  Each cluster comprises a unique combination of high emitting manufacturing, energy and power facilities.  Social License to Operate (SLO) depends on building trust between stakeholders and communities in support of decarbonising these industries in a way that is widely accepted as legitimate and credible.  This work package is exploring the role of the UK industrial clusters in enabling carbon, capture, storage and use (CCUS) deployment, with the aim of understanding how activities within the UK CCUS clusters may contribute to the development of a SLO at regional and national scales.

What is this research investigating?

The cluster approach suggests a new framing for CCUS and a new way of thinking about how to secure investment in the technology. The CCUS Action Plan (BEIS, 2018) focuses on the deployment of CCUS for industrial applications, concentrating initially on industrial clusters where the co-location of high emitters offers opportunities for cost reductions through shared infrastructure. The focus of our work is two-fold. Firstly, we apply the concept of ‘protective spaces’ from sustainability transition management to the five industrial clusters to explore the extent to which this approach will effectively enable the wide-scale deployment of CCUS. Secondly, we explore the conditions necessary for establishing a social license to operate (SLO) for CCUS and the implications for the future within industry and for BECCS.

What does the research hope to achieve?

Working with key stakeholders, the aim is to better understand the issues and priorities in establishing CCUS within the UK energy system, and to help build the necessary foundations to establish a social license to operate CCS in the UK.

Research updates

See below for recent updates and resources on this research project.


Summer 2021 Web Series update, 15 July

See the slides from Sarah Mander's guest lecture on 15 July 2021


September 2019 Conference update

See the presentation from our September 2019 conference


September 2019 Conference poster

See the poster presented at our September 2019 conference


ECR-led Workshop, 10th March 2020

See the presentation from the ECR-led Workshop on 10th March 2020, Thornton Science Park, Chester

Research outputs

Find links to publications, datasets and any other outputs below.


Current Sustainable/Renewable Reports November 2019 publication

Beyond Social Acceptability: Applying Lessons from CCS Social Science to Support Deployment of BECCS


Policy@Manchester blog

“Getting serious about CO2 removal” Clair Gough and Andrew Welfle in “On net zero”


Policy@Manchester blog

Sarah Mander “Turning climate change ambitions to reality”


Global Sustainability

Challenges to the use of BECCS as a keystone technology in pursuit of 1.5⁰C


Environmental Research Letters

Evaluating the use of biomass energy with carbon capture and storage in low emission scenarios



Biomass Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS): Unlocking Negative Emissions


Energy Procedia

Comparing Online and Offline Knowledge Networks of Carbon Capture and Storage