Is the UK ready to kick-start a UK Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage industry in the 2020s?

  • Andy Lewis
  • 24 April 2018
  • Posted in: Energy & Environment, Planning & Development

After a decade where progress for CCUS across Europe has been beleaguered by cost concerns; as carbon reduction targets loom there is new impetus to move forwards. There has been a shift in emphasis, with CCUS now seen as an integral part of the wider decarbonisation and economic growth story, rather than a technology in isolation.


For the UK, positive and decisive moves supporting CCUS deployment are a priority to meet our own 2050 commitments. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) were clear in their assessment of the Clean Growth Strategy[1] that The Government should not plan to meet the 2050 target without CCS.”  Furthermore, the potential for CCUS to support economic growth is highlighted in the Clean Growth Strategy;  with even a “a modest share“ of a future estimated global CCUS market worth over £100 billion having the potential to increase UK GVA to between £5 billion and £9 billion per year by 2030.


Both Norway and Germany[2] could be ready to move ahead with CCUS deployment in the early 2020s; and the UK must make similar strides. Small scale, low cost and ‘low regrets’ demonstration projects are needed to build confidence and learn lessons ready for deployment at scale in the 2030s.


As part of our wider work exploring the future role of gas, Cadent, the UK largest gas distribution network, is leading the HyNet North West project. HyNet is an ambitious but achievable hydrogen project which includes creation of the UK’s first CCUS infrastructure, operational by the mid-2020s.


The HyNet CCUS proposal recognises the factors needed for a successful demonstration of the technology in the UK. It sets out a clear pathway that meets both the Clean Growth Strategy ambition to see CCUS at scale during the 2030s at reduced cost; and the CCC’s recommendation for small demonstration projects in the 2020s. The infrastructure, close proximity of a ‘cluster’ of heavy industry, unique geology and technical skills base of the North West region offer an unparalleled, timely and cost effective opportunity to make this a reality. 


About 10 miles offshore from the Merseyside coastline are the Liverpool Bay oil and gas fields that are reaching the end of their production lives. They’ll be decommissioned in the near future, as soon as the early 2020s, at a costly expense for the taxpayer. This infrastructure has an estimated CO2 storage capacity of 130 million tonnes and could be re-purposed for CCUS as could, potentially, the existing rigs and pipelines.


Looking ahead, greater CO2 storage of up to 1 billion tonnes is readily available in the wider area, e.g. Morecambe Bay gas fields. This could allow substantial further CCUS infrastructure to be used by other industry, power generators and in the production of low carbon transport fuels; achieving the 2030 ambition.


Overall, HyNet can bring considerable environmental and economic benefits for the region. Its main focus is on industrial decarbonisation, specifically, material emissions reductions for up to 15 energy intensive industrial users with hydrogen of up to 100%. This will help to future proof jobs in the heavy industry sector. HyNet would also supply hydrogen (up to 20% vol.) blended with natural gas to four million domestic customers, at a level which causes no disruption. Hydrogen blending can start decarbonisation of domestic heat; and begin an important journey with communities around hydrogen acceptability. 


In the future, the hydrogen production unit can be scaled up and the and the pipeline is extendable to wider geographies opening the door for investment in renewable energy; as well as a network of filling stations for transport. The jobs and skills base which grows around HyNet can prosper and develop a sought after centre of expertise for hydrogen and CCUS technologies.


HyNet is an exciting project which can propel the UK clean growth journey forwards by providing a replicable model. As a low cost, practical deployment of CCUS, it is an opportunity not to be missed. As we enter this critical phase it’s our task to explain the benefits of HyNet in the North West and nationally so we can bring clean growth to life.



[1] UK Clean Growth Strategy, 2017

[2] Gassnova - and Port of Rotterdam project -

  • energy
  • environment
  • central government
  • oil and gas
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About Andy Lewis

Andy Lewis leads the future role of gas innovation project portfolio for Cadent, the UK’s largest gas distribution network. Across four regional networks Cadent transport gas to around 10 million consumers. Andy is responsible for the initiation, delivery and subsequent deployment of projects to explore how gas can contribute to a low carbon future…