A big bet on CCUS, the key to UK net zero

The UK, which has long led the global CCUS market, has new and firmer ambitions.

On December 20, 2023, the British government launched a new “CCUS Vision” plan to unlock investment and drive economic growth. According to the latest plan, by 2030, the UK will store 20 to 30 million tons of carbon dioxide every year, with an investment of up to 20 billion pounds (about 180 billion yuan).

Prior to this, the British government has pledged to provide 1 billion pounds of public investment to support the development of four CCUS industrial clusters by 2030. With the announcement of two more CCUS clusters in the UK in early 2023, the UK has achieved its goal of four CCUS clusters ahead of schedule. The new “CCUS Vision” means that the UK continues to be the global leader in CCUS.

CCUS is becoming one of the most attractive industries for investment in the carbon neutral era. According to Bloomberg NEF data, more than US$83 billion has been invested in CCUS projects globally over the past 30 years.

In the development trend of CCUS, it is not surprising that the UK takes the lead. Of all the current CCUS projects in the world, 80% are held by oil companies, and the vast majority of captured carbon dioxide is used in the oil and gas industry.

North Sea oil and gas began to be developed on a large scale around the 1970s, and the UK became Europe’s major oil and gas producer. As time goes by, North Sea oil and gas resources begin to enter a period of decline. With the urgent requirements for the transformation of North Sea oil and gas infrastructure, CCUS development has also been fully supported.

In November 2021, the British government released its Net Zero Strategy, setting out the ambition to achieve a net zero target by 2050 (so far, 50% of the target has been achieved), and by 2035, the UK greenhouse gas emissions Volume will be 78% below 1990 levels.

The tradition of oil and gas development and the objective needs of the net-zero strategy have given CCUS a good industrial soil in the UK. The government’s financial and policy support is a key part of CCUS’s global leadership.

After entering the “double carbon” cycle, China has also begun to actively promote the development of CCUS. Although there is no overall development target plan for CCUS at the national level, as the world’s largest carbon emitter, China’s carbon emission reduction and CCUS development potential is undoubtedly huge.

What kind of sparks will the UK, which has the world’s leading industrial chain, and China, which has huge potential, create in CCUS cooperation?

Surging CCUS

“CCUS is a very important underpinning technology for global carbon neutrality.” said Liang Xi, Secretary General of the China-UK (Guangdong) CCUS Center and Associate Dean of the School of Sustainable Architecture at University College London. Not only has he shown great enthusiasm for the development of CCUS, but he has also done a lot of work in promoting the implementation of the project. ”

In the 2020 “Ten-Point Plan for Green Industrial Revolution”, the 2021 Net Zero Plan, and the 2022 “Energy Security Strategy”, the British government has emphasized the importance of CCUS. In April 2022, the UK released the “CCUS Investment Roadmap” (the latest version was updated in April 2023); coupled with the “CCUS Vision” plan just promulgated in December 2023, the UK’s strategic layout in the CCUS field has been very clear.

The current CCUS industry development in the UK is centered on industrial clusters in various regions. All clusters have pipeline or ship capacity to transport CO2 to offshore storage or to the point of use.

Due to the comprehensive traditional oil and gas industry chain, the initial development of British CCUS has a foundation of technology and application scenarios. The British government’s cluster strategy and financial support ensure that infrastructure construction can play its greatest role under the most economical circumstances. This is also an important reason why the development of the British CCUS industry can be sustained.