North Sea ‘Treasure Map’ to Unleash UK’s CCS Industry

North Sea ‘Treasure Map’ to Unleash UK’s CCS Industry

A ‘treasure map’ of what lies beneath the North Sea will be created to help the UK become a world leader in carbon capture and storage.

Companies already at the forefront of this technology and licensed to drill in the North Sea will have to report what they find to the regulator, which will develop the most comprehensive picture yet of the geological area’s make-up.

This information can then be used to unlock the UK’s huge potential by quantifying for investors how much carbon capture and storage could be possible. This could attract more companies to the UK, supporting as many as 50,000 green jobs by 2030, helping to grow the economy and delivering on the Prime Minister’s priorities.

The government intends to bring forward these new powers for the North Sea Transition Authority in an amendment to the Energy Bill, which had its Second Reading in the House of Commons today.

The Energy Bill was introduced to Parliament on 6 July 2022. It will deliver a cleaner, more affordable, and more secure energy system over the long-term for the UK, while liberating private investment in clean technologies.

Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero Grant Shapps said: “The UK is in prime position to become a world leader in carbon capture and storage – a whole new industry that could boost our energy security, help cut our own emissions and those of our European neighbors and create thousands of jobs for the future.

By working with the brightest and best who are already out in the North Sea, we can grow our economy by building the treasure map needed to unlock the full potential of this geological goldmine.”

Minister for the Energy Bill, Nuclear and Networks, Andrew Bowie said: “Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine has laid bare the need to transform our energy system, and our landmark Energy Security Bill will mean homes and businesses across the UK benefit from a cleaner, more affordable and more secure energy system.”

With security at its heart, the Bill is the most significant piece of energy legislation in a decade and puts the UK on the path to cleaner electricity by ramping up carbon storage and our technologies of the future.

Stuart Payne, North Sea Transition Authority Chief Executive, said: “Carbon storage is essential to reaching net zero, and the industry requires a wealth of reliable information to select sites to store millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases.

The NSTA welcomes these new powers to collect this vital data and share it with the industry as it leads the orderly transition and provides thousands of skilled jobs.

Carbon Capture and Storage involves separating carbon dioxide from industry and storing it safely under the seabed in spaces left by oil and gas extraction. Thanks to the geological make-up of the UK, this country is almost uniquely placed to benefit from this and create a whole new industry. ‘

Estimates suggest that there may be enough space underneath the UK’s oceans – including its old oil and gas fields – to store up to 78 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide – the equivalent to the weight of around 15 billion elephants. To kickstart this industry, the UK aims to store 20 to 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2030 – equal to removing up to 6 million cars off UK roads each year.

As well as helping cut the UK’s own emissions, this potential is believed to be so considerable that this country could also help other nations using carbon capture and storage – including other European countries – by storing their carbon emissions too.

Under plans announced in Parliament today, the government plans to grant the North Sea Transition Authority, as a carbon storage regulator, powers to obtain information and samples from those who have a licence already to store carbon.

These will give the information needed about the geological features of hidden underground spaces underneath the North Sea that have already been mapped. This will help develop an encyclopaedic knowledge about what lies beneath the waves and confirm the likely scale of the industry this could create, helping to encourage private investment.

UK government Minister for Scotland John Lamont said: “Expanding carbon capture and storage forms a vital part of our Net Zero ambitions. The new measures introduced today will propel that sector forward, while supporting up to 50,000 jobs to benefit Scotland and the whole of the UK.

Not only will this accelerate our transition to using cleaner, greener energy and enhance our energy security but it will also bring a welcome economic boost to aid our priorities of reducing debt and halving inflation.”

Other forthcoming amendments to the Energy Bill announced by the government today:

  • backing Energy Intensive Industries (EIIs), such as those in the steel sector, by introducing a compensation scheme that will lower the costs they EIIs have to pay to use the electricity grid. This will bring key UK businesses in line with global competitors and help make the UK one of the most attractive places to do business as part of delivering on the Prime Minister’s plan to grow the economy
  • setting out the statutory role of the new nuclear body Great British Nuclear to carry out the long-term mandate the government intends for it in support of the commitment to unleashing the new generation of new nuclear for it to comprise up to 25% of the UK’s energy supply by 2050
  • plans to develop new business models to encourage investment in the transport and storage of hydrogen. This will be key to boosting the UK’s future energy security

Business and Trade Minister Nusrat Ghani said: Energy-intensive industries like steel are hugely important to our economy. This measure will cut costs and help ensure they can bring high-quality jobs and investment into the UK.

This support will mean that these key industries stay in line with their global competitors, helping deliver on the Prime Minister’s priority to make the UK the most attractive place to do business and grow our economy.

The Energy Bill first entered Parliament in July last year and commits to providing a cleaner, more affordable, and more secure energy system by:

  • leveraging private investment in clean technologies
  • reforming the UK’s energy system so it is fit for the future
  • ensuring the safety, security and resilience of the UK’s energy system

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