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29 April 2022

North Sea Transition Authority, The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland announce renewed collaboration to unlock the potential of carbon storage

The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), The Crown Estate (TCE) and Crown Estate Scotland (CES) are today reiterating their continued commitment to work in close collaboration to help meet the UK Government’s ambitious carbon storage targets of 20-30 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year by 2030, and over 50 million tonnes by 2035.

The UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) has enormous potential as a critical energy and carbon abatement resource, and today’s renewed commitment recognises the pressing need to work together to realise that potential and make a significant contribution to net zero.

A co-ordinated approach to managing the seabed is critical to enable the UK to unlock the full potential of CCUS in the UKCS, accelerate the path to net zero, and creating lasting benefits. Work is already underway by the three organisations, government, and others to identify suitable seabed areas and subsurface geology for carbon storage, while being mindful of impacts on the marine environment.

To provide the clarity and certainty needed to progress Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) development at pace, three areas of focus are announced today:

  • To facilitate future planning, the window for nominations to the NSTA for new areas for potential carbon storage, which was opened last year, remains open until 13 May 2022. After that there will be a short pause by the NSTA before considering any further areas for potential carbon dioxide storage.
  • All nominations received in this current window and existing licence applications to the NSTA, and lease applications to TCE or CES from developers, will continue to be reviewed, with the outcome of these processes announced by each organisation in due course.
  • In order to help meet government targets and industry demand, all three organisations are exploring the optimal approach to carbon storage licensing and leasing, including the potential for future leasing and licensing rounds for offshore areas.

Developers are required to apply for both a carbon storage licence, provided by the NSTA – responsible for the licensing, permitting and stewarding of offshore carbon storage sites - alongside a storage agreement for lease, granted by TCE or CES respectively - responsible for leasing the seabed - for the opportunity to develop carbon storage opportunities.

About CCUS

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a rapidly evolving technology which can substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the global economy at an industrial scale. Carbon capture is widely recognised as integral to the UK meeting its climate change target of net zero emissions by 2050.

Additional updates from the ongoing collaboration between NSTA, TCE and CES include:

  • The NSTA has today published updated carbon storage licence application guidance, detailing the application process and basis on which applications will be evaluated by the NSTA, including a technical marks scheme.
  • The Crown Estate has today published its approach to granting leases for offshore pipeline transportation, seabed and subsurface rights to developers for CO2 storage.
  • In February 2022, Crown Estate Scotland announced the details of its Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas (INTOG) offshore wind leasing process. To design and deliver INTOG, Crown Estate Scotland worked closely with the NSTA, and will continue to do so to deliver increased and efficient access to storage agreements for leases and carbon storage licences.
  • The NSTA, The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland are continuing to work together across a range of other projects and cross-cutting issues, including through the Offshore Wind and CCUS Co-location Forum, coming together with stakeholders including the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA), RenewableUK and government to provide strategic coordination of co-location research and activity and help maximise the potential of the seabed for these two critical activities.
  • Additional cross-sector collaboration through the Energy Integration Project identified that energy integration technologies – offshore electrification, CCS, blue and green hydrogen – could contribute around 30% of the UK emissions abatement needed. These technologies are also expected to support the expansion of offshore renewables, which could deliver a further contribution of around 30% to the net zero abatement target.
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