Landmark agreement provides platform for delivery of major carbon store in North Sea
The Crown Estate has awarded an Agreement for Lease for what could become one of the world’s largest carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects, playing a significant role in meeting the UK’s net zero ambitions.
The Agreement for Lease will allow bp, as lead operator, to further progress its planned ‘Endurance’ CCS project, a reservoir in the rock deep below the North Sea which would be used to store hard to abate carbon emissions captured from carbon intensive heavy industry in Teesside and Humberside. The scale of the project means it has the potential to substantially decarbonise the UK’s industrial emissions, significantly supporting UK government ambitions to capture and store 20 to 30 MtCO2 per year by 2030.
The announcement is a significant milestone in the maturation of carbon capture, use and storage (CCS) – a technology dubbed by the Climate Change Committee as a ‘necessity not an option’ if the UK is to meet its 2050 net zero target, and a technology that promises huge benefits, supporting jobs and communities, while driving forward the nation’s energy security and net zero ambitions.
Gus Jaspert, managing director of marine at The Crown Estate, said: ‘Supporting the development of CCS is a key priority for The Crown Estate, and we are delighted that the Endurance store is now a step closer to delivering on its enormous potential for contributing to net zero and delivering new jobs and thriving communities in one of the UKs industrial heartlands.
‘The Crown Estate is firmly focussed on maximising the potential of the seabed in support of net zero and energy security. This project promises to be a significant contributor to both, alongside our vital work to accelerate our world class offshore wind industry and to support the growth of emerging renewable technologies.
‘We will continue to work to bring future CCS opportunities to the market, including the development of our own CCS leasing process, ensuring these projects can be undertaken successfully alongside the range of other seabed activities that the UK relies upon.’
Endurance forms part of the Northern Endurance Partnership’s (NEP) East Coast Cluster, which in October 2021 was selected as one of the first clusters in phase one of the UK government’s CCS cluster sequencing process. The cluster also benefits from a licence awarded by the North Sea Transmission Authority (NSTA), with whom The Crown Estate collaborates closely in seeking to shape the CCS industry for the benefit of the nation. Recognising that investing in CCS is a long term commitment with the potential to deliver benefits that will be felt over generations, the Agreement for Lease allows for construction, CO2 injection, as well as monitoring and decommissioning.
Chris Daykin, the managing director of the Northern Endurance Partnership, said: ‘The East Coast Cluster has a critical role to play in the delivery of UK decarbonisation, with the ability to remove almost 50% of the UK’s total industrial cluster emissions. Award of this Agreement for Lease marks another important step in the development of the Northern Endurance Partnership CO2 transport and storage system, and accelerates the efforts being made to decarbonise the UK’s industrial heartlands. We welcome The Crown Estate’s support on that journey.’
This announcement demonstrates The Crown Estate’s commitment to supporting new technologies such as CCS, offshore wind and hydrogen which will play a vital role in meeting the nation’s net zero targets. As managers of the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, The Crown Estate supports the growth of these industries in a holistic, joined up way, working with a wide range of industries, experts, data and digital mapping capabilities to ensure that the varied, growing and sometimes competing demands on an ever busier seabed are coordinated for the benefit of net zero, energy security and nature recovery.
The UK is recognised as having some of the world’s best natural resources for CCS, a technology which has the potential to deliver environmental, economic and social value for the country by supporting hard to abate generation and heavy industries to remove emissions from the atmosphere and creating new jobs in communities in industrial heartlands. The Crown Estate is helping to accelerate this technology by:
Working in close collaboration with the NSTA, The Crown Estate (TCE) and Crown Estate Scotland (CES) to help meet the UK government’s ambitious carbon storage targets of 20 to 30 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year by 2030, and over 50 million tonnes by 2035, and make a significant contribution to net zero.
Working to design and deliver the required leasing process for CCS developers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, ensuring a holistic view is taken of how new infrastructure sits alongside all other marine users and respects the nation’s vital coastal environments and habitats.
Establishing the Offshore Wind and CCS Co-location Forum in recognition that the co-location of offshore wind and CCS – both vital technologies on the road to net zero – may be required in the future. The forum seeks to identify solutions to the challenges presented by co-locating offshore wind and CCS, and help make co-location a reality.