The North Sea Transition Authority have awarded businesses the ability to store carbon in offshore gas reservoirs with the aim of increasing the carbon storage capacity where these storage sites are.
The carbon will be stored in saline aquifers which will cover 12,000 sq km, which is equivalent to the size of Yorkshire. These aquifers will be capable of storing up to 30 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2030 which is equivalent to 10% of the UK’s annual emissions as of data taken in 2021, which stated the annual emissions from the UK then were 341.5 million tonnes.
These reservoirs are placed strategically around the North Sea, with an aim of increasing the carbon storage capacity, but also with the goal of using the captured carbon to create low-carbon energy for areas close to each of the storage sites.
Companies such as Shell, Perenco and ENI were all awarded licenses and they will use the sites off the coast of Norfolk. Aberdeen, Teesside and Liverpool form other sites and companies such as Harbour energy, acorn and bp will be based to the west of the existing Viking CCS.
The NSTA Chief Executive, Stuart Payne, commented on the project, saying, “Carbon storage will play a crucial role in the energy transition, storing carbon dioxide deep under the seabed and playing a key role in hydrogen production and energy hubs. It is exciting to award these licences and our teams will support the licensees to bring about first injection of carbon dioxide as soon as possible. We will also continue to work with industry and government to enable further licensing activity and back the UK’s drive to net zero emissions.”
It is suggested that approximately 100 licenses will be needed to meet the net zero goal and the first steps towards this goal are being taken through the potential these companies will now have once they are utilising the reservoirs. For example, the companies setting up off the coast of Norfolk could join the Bacton Energy Hub where the carbon storage will combine with hydrogen and work with the offshore wind project in order to create low-carbon energy for London and the Southeast which will last for decades. This will have a significant effect on positively impacting the drive to reach net zero with green house gas emissions.
The six licenses which have been awarded from NSTA will also receive £20 bn in funding from the government in order to aid these existing projects. These projects have been set up in two separate locations and they are grouped into tracks, Hynet and East Coast cluster is Track 1, and Acorn and Viking CCS are Track2, in order to create a set pace at which to deploy carbon.
Ruth Herbert, Chief Executive at the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, said, “The CCSA welcomes the acceptance of carbon storage licences, a significant step towards achieving net zero. These licences mark a substantial milestone towards widespread deployment of CCS. With the potential to store almost 10% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions in these new locations, starting to develop these sites paves the way for a cleaner and more sustainable future. The next step is a carbon capture deployment plan to enable us to fully exploit our future CO2 storage capacity.”