May 18, 2023 1.00 pm This story is over 10 months old

Lincolnshire set to be big net zero player after carbon storage licences offered

A total of 20 sites have been offered licences for CO2 storage

By Local Democracy Reporter

Lincolnshire will be the primary benefactor of new 20 carbon storage licences awarded at offshore sites in a landmark moment in the UK’s quest towards net zero.

Launched last June by the North Sea Transition Authority, companies with offshore sites were invited to bid for carbon storage licences that would potentially store up to 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, per year, by 2030.

This equates to approximately 10% of the total UK annual emissions, and is part of the government’s ambitions to reach net zero by 2050 – bolstered by a £20 billion allocation from the Chancellor in his last budget.

A total of 20 provisional awards have been offered after successful applications by 12 companies across the country, with much of them off the Lincolnshire coast.

In total, the 20 licences are around 12,000 square kilometres in size, which is a little bigger than the UK’s largest county – Yorkshire.

In some cases the first storage sites could be in operation as little as six years from now, and the first CO2 injection into subsurface stores is expected within a decade.

Licences for carbon capture storage have been offered in Lincolnshire – a significant milestone in trying to reach the government’s net zero targets. | Photo: North Sea Transition Authority

Stuart Payne, North Sea Transition Authority Chief Executive, called it an “exciting and important day.”

He said: “As a nation, we cannot meet our decarbonisation targets without carbon storage. This is net zero delivery in action.

“The awards we offer today could store around 10% of the UK’s emissions, and through our engagement with applicants, we will have committed work plans in place such as seismic surveys and drilling of wells – we are working with industry to move at real pace.

“The UK’s offshore waters remain the crown jewel of our energy mix, providing energy security, emissions reduction and carbon storage.

“This will require more and more integration and collaboration in a crowded space, and we are working closely with governments and agencies such as The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland to ensure we maximise this amazing potential.

“We look forward to working with these licensees to make these projects a reality as soon as possible and to opening more carbon storage rounds in the near future – my thanks to our teams and industry for their great work, but this is just the beginning.”

Licences include a range of geological store types and were selected during consideration of attributes, such as geology, proximity to existing infrastructure and links to industrial clutters.

Offshore space sharing with other users of the seabed, such as wind developers and petroleum operations, were also considered by the North Sea Transition Authority when licences were being offered.

It is hoped that carbon capture and storage will play a crucial role in decarbonising the UK’s major industrial hubs, and the CO2 is then transported from where it’s produced, via ship or pipeline, and stored offshore.

Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said: “Thanks to the government’s unprecedented £20 billion investment in early-stage carbon capture and storage development, we are in prime position to take advantage of the geological goldmine beneath our shores to store CO2, and grow our economy by becoming world-leaders in this developing industry.

“These new licences, together with fresh powers granted to NSTA within the landmark Energy Bill, will develop our most comprehensive picture yet of UK’s carbon capture and storage potential, strengthening our energy security and cutting emissions while creating thousands of skilled British jobs.”

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