Carbon capture could be worth £100bn to UK economy by 2050 – report

Carbon capture and storage could be worth £100 billion by 2050, an industry report says, with analysts predicting the UK has enough capacity to last two centuries of emissions.

But although the country is well positioned to become a world leader in the technology as the UK has large industrial clusters, extensive gas transport infrastructure and good scientific understanding, the Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) report said that the UK supply chain be fragile.

The paper therefore warned that Britain was at risk of losing the industry to more attractive opportunities abroad and that the government must act quickly to secure its future.

Katy Heidenreich, OEUK’s supply chain and operations manager, said carbon capture is “a key tool in our fight against climate change” and offers the “offshore energy supply chain an opportunity to help energy-intensive industries reduce emissions”.

“If we get this right, it could free up £100bn of jobs for UK manufacturing employers by 2050. This will support UK jobs, cut emissions, boost the economy and develop skills that can be exported globally,” she said.

“Much progress has been made but without urgent action the UK will miss the opportunity to secure a leadership position in this exciting new sector.”

Carbon capture is seen by many as a crucial technology to help energy-intensive sectors like cement and power generation achieve their net-zero goals.

The UK government‘s net zero strategy says the country must catch 50 million tonnes a year by 2035.

It works by capturing the carbon dioxide at source rather than releasing it into the atmosphere.

OEUK’s Katy Heidenreich with Verlume’s Operations Director Jonny Moroney (Michal Wachucik/Abermedia/PA)

The emissions can then be stored in offshore areas of Scotland, East England and Merseyside, with the rock formations having the potential to store up to 78 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The report’s authors said this is the equivalent of two centuries of UK emissions today.

Most of the storage is in the North Sea, and the paper also said there is an opportunity to use the geological formations and depleted oil and gas reservoirs to store emissions from other countries.

The report, commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, found that offshore oil and gas supply chain companies already had some capabilities in areas such as facility design and engineering, facility manufacturing and construction.

According to their forecast, carbon capture and storage could be worth £20 billion to the economy within the next decade.

As part of the report, they identified 13 actions for UK government and industry, including the need for government support through early-stage funding and additional rounds of licensing.

It said securing jobs in Britain would benefit Aberdeen, Inverness, Liverpool, North Wales, East Anglia, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Teesside.

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