Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage in the 2020s: Four key challenges

November 4, 2021
Idyllic Forest Road

The UK’s independent advisory group on climate change, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), has identified Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) as a critical technology in the UK’s commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 20501. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted by a wide array of sources, from power generation and heavy industry, to domestic heating and private vehicles. The UK is well placed to develop a CCUS industry, given its geographically clustered emission sources, extensive pipeline networks, proximity to potential storage sites, and wealth of offshore expertise. The potential of CCUS to realise deep decarbonisation across multiple sectors has prompted a UK government push for an established and growing CCUS industry by the end of the decade, through the development of industrial clusters with CCUS, and a network for CO2 transport and storage (T&S).

This ambition will be an immense technical and commercial undertaking that will require cutting-edge engineering solutions and a marriage of public and private finance. In many cases, technical constraints underpin commercial barriers. In this piece, we explore four of the key challenges faced by the industry over the coming decade. We discuss how understanding the barriers to broad CCUS implementation from an engineer’s perspective may help to inform well-designed commercial mechanisms, and how, in developing effective business models, the UK Government must cooperate with industries along the full CCUS chain and engage with industry-specific challenges.

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