UK CCS Plans "disappointing"

BRUSSELS, Belgium, 31 July 2023 – An announcement by the British prime minister that government support will be given to two CCS projects has received only a muted welcome from the Brussels-based advocacy group CCS Europe.

Rishi Sunak has said that the Acorn Project in Scotland and Viking around the Humber estuary in England will become Britain’s third and fourth CCS/CCUS clusters.

Both are intended to help reduce emissions from hard-to-abate industry, making use where possible of redundant pipelines to transport CO2 to depleted oil and gas fields below the North Sea.

But Chris Davies, director of Brussels-based CCS Europe, said that the announcement did not amount to a final investment decision.

“It’s a promise of jam tomorrow not jam today,” he said. “The UK government has a long history of giving verbal support for CCS but of not making a final commitment to make it happen, so any celebrations today would be premature.”

The government has previously announced that it will commit £20bn to support the deployment of CCS over the next 20 years, but no details have been provided.

The prime minister’s priority today was to announce that 100 licenses would be issued to companies wanting to extract more oil and gas, a decision that Davies described as disappointing.

He said: “CCS development to reduce CO2 emissions and promotion of gas exploitation are separate matters and it is disappointing that the UK government has deliberately chosen to portray them as connected.

"This will not help to win public support, with the result that the real need to deploy CCS to fight climate change will be delayed.  The UK risks losing not only a competitive advantage from leadership in this area but also the opportunity to meet its climate targets.”

 “The British announcement today should have reinforced the European Commission’s message to EU Member States about the need to develop CCS strategies. Instead, it just muddies the waters.”

Chris Davies 
Director, CCS Europe