UK releases further detail on CCS plans

  • Market: Biomass, Electricity, Emissions, Hydrogen
  • 30/03/23

The UK government today set out further information on its plans for carbon capture and storage (CCS), including seeking applications to establish two new CCS clusters.

As as part of a co-ordinated net zero strategy day, the government called for applications under its so-called Track 2 scheme, which aims to establish two further CCS clusters in the UK by 2030. The HyNet and East Coast clusters were selected in October 2021 under the Track 1 process, for deployment by the mid 2020s.

Track 2 applicants must either have a CO2 storage licence or have applied for one, and they must have "relevant agreements and commitments in place" with capture projects, the government said. Criteria for eligible Track 2 capture projects have not yet been set out.

The Acorn and Viking projects are "best placed to deliver on the government's objectives", the government said, though its call for applicants will remain open until 28 April. Acorn, in Scotland, missed out in the Track 1 scheme, but the government's Scottish Affairs Committee recently called for its approval. Viking, off the east coast of England, is targeting a start date of 2027 and a capture rate of 10mn t/yr of emissions by 2030. It is led by UK independent Harbour Energy and partners include Associated British Ports, power producer West Burton Energy, refiner Phillips 66 and trading firm Vitol's power plant subsidiary VPI.

The government also today said eight carbon capture projects have progressed to a "negotiations project list" of the Track 1 programme. These include three industrial carbon capture, two energy from waste, one power with carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) and two hydrogen projects. London also promised a forthcoming "updated investment roadmap on CCUS, summarising government policy and funding", and "a vision for the UK CCUS sector to raise confidence and improve visibility for investors".

The UK aims to capture 20mn-30mn t/yr of CO2 by 2030 and estimates that up to 100 stores may be needed to hit these targets.

Beccs model progresses

The UK also today clarified its preferred approach to support bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (Beccs), and utility Drax said it will start formal discussions with London to move forward its Beccs project in the country.

Drax — which last week paused its Beccs plans, calling for clarity on government support — now "stands ready to progress [its] £2bn investment programme and deliver this critical project for the UK by 2030," chief executive Will Gardiner said today.

The UK government plans to use a dual contracts for difference (CfD) business model to support Beccs. The model combines a CfD for low-carbon electricity generation and one for carbon captured. The policy has not been finalised, and the government said today it will continue development and to engage with interested parties. The biomass strategy, expected by the end of June, will set out sustainability considerations for Beccs, it said.


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