The UK government has announced a shortlist of bidders it has identified as it progresses to the second stage of its mapping and planning for carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects and infrastructure in the country.

Twenty projects in power carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), industrial carbon capture (ICC), and CCUS-enabled hydrogen were shortlisted by the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy for potential government support, out of 41 bids originally submitted.

The shortlisted projects will now pass to the due diligence stage and be considered for public funding, as part of the government’s CCUS Cluster Sequencing Process.

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All the selected projects are located within the two so-called Track1 CCUS clusters. In November 2021, the HyNet cluster in North West England and North Wales, and the East Coast Cluster in the Teesside and Humber were selected as Track 1 clusters, for deployment by the mid-2020s.

Of the 20 selected bids, three power CCS, as well as three hydrogen projects, are in the East Coast Cluster, together with eight ICC projects. The six remaining projects (one hydrogen and five ICC) will be at HyNet.

The shortlisted ventures have the potential to “kick-start the hydrogen economy and put us on a path to decarbonising our power system by 2035, while maintaining security of supply”, the government said.

In phase one of the Cluster Sequencing Process, the government received bids from carbon dioxide transport and storage organisations, identifying those it deemed most viable for near-term deployment. This included onshore and offshore pipelines and offshore storage facilities.

Phase two — the current stage — involved bids from individual CCS projects in industry, power and hydrogen that would connect to Track1 transport and storage networks.

The government support will be in the form of revenue contracts to cover the cost of operating with carbon capture, as well as access to capital.

Infrastructure fund

The funding will originate from the £1 billion ($1.214 billion) Carbon Capture & Storage Infrastructure Fund that the UK government earmarked in 2020 as part of its green energy policy strategy.

The CCUS Cluster Sequencing Process targets the deployment of two CCUS clusters by the mid 2020s, and two more by 2030.

Commenting on the development, Ruth Herbert, chief executive at trade group Carbon Capture & Storage Association (CCSA), said: “This announcement sends a signal that carbon capture, utilisation and storage and net zero remains a priority for the UK Government, particularly since it comes during a change in leadership.”

Herbert said CCUS is “critical” in achieving net-zero emissions and will support the UK economy through job creation and export opportunities growth.

She added the next step will be to have better clarity on the timing for the next phases of the selection process.

Nick Cooper, chief executive of carbon storage and clean fuels projects developer Storegga, said: “We look forward to hearing more on opening up the UK’s CO2 storage.

“We know we have huge emitter customer demand. Let’s make the storage available as quickly as possible.”

Norwegian energy major Equinor’s Hydrogen to Humber Saltend (H2H Saltend) is one of the projects that have been progressed to phase two of the process.

H2H targets the set-up of a 600-megawatt low-carbon hydrogen production plant in Saltend.

The Humber area is the most carbon intensive industrial region in the UK, and H2H could help reduce local emissions by nearly 1 million tonnes per annum, Equinor said.

The project is due to kick-start operations in 2026-2027.