Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage

In pursuit of Net Zero: unlocking the potential beneath the seabed

What is CCUS (Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage)?

Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) is a rapidly evolving technology which can substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the global economy at an industrial scale.

With carbon capture widely recognised as integral to the UK meeting its climate change target of net zero emissions by 2050, the UK Government has recently expanded on its ambition with a renewed target to capture and store 20 to 30 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year by 2030, and over 50 million tonnes by 2035.

The road to the UK’s net zero transition will require an energy mix that is cleaner, more diverse, and not reliant on a single source of fuel or technology. CCUS will be a significant contributor to that effort and will enable the UK to adapt its existing gas generation assets to provide secure electricity in the short-term, as it seeks to develop more renewable sources of energy.

Our role in CCUS

As managers of the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, The Crown Estate is responsible for granting leases for offshore pipeline transportation, seabed and subsurface rights to developers for CO2 storage. Through this, we aim to accelerate the UK’s path to net zero and create lasting economic, environmental and social value for the nation.

We work closely with regulators and stakeholders, including the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) – the regulator for carbon dioxide transport and storage – the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED) to review applications from developers for the licensing and leasing of offshore transport and storage opportunities.

Developers are required to apply for a carbon storage licence, granted by the NSTA, and a storage agreement for lease, granted by The Crown Estate, to develop transport and storage opportunities under the seabed. This will enable them to proceed with a Permit application and a lease if successful.

Our current focus

While the seabed is vast, competing demands for this space are increasing, so a coordinated approach to its management, in balance with the marine environment, is more vital than ever before. Through the Offshore Wind and CCUS Co-location Forum, The Crown Estate brings together partners including the NSTA, the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA), RenewableUK, Government and Crown Estate Scotland to provide strategic coordination of co-location research and activity and help maximise the potential of the seabed for these two critical activities.

Over the past 18 months, we have been engaging with developers on the carbon stores selected in the Government’s ‘Cluster Sequencing’ process, Track 1 announced in 2021, which are capable of storing millions of tonnes of CO2.

We are currently assessing the nominations and applications received by the NSTA and are working together to bring these forward, to meet the UK’s immediate ambition of having the option to deploy CCUS at scale during the 2030s.

Future opportunity

In order to help meet Government targets and industry demand, the NSTA, The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland are exploring the potential for future co-ordinated licensing and leasing processes for offshore areas in their respective jurisdictions.

Our ambition with this co-ordinated process is to provide the clarity and certainty needed to progress CCUS development at pace.

Work is underway on analysis to identify suitable seabed and subsurface areas for carbon storage, while being mindful at all times of the impact of development on the marine environment. This work will inform the design of any future joint licensing and leasing processes, and we expect to make further announcements later this year.

How to work with us

For an informal confidential discussion on prospective sites, please get in touch with the team at [email protected].


Portrait shot of J Golder

Jason Golder

Senior Development Manager, CCUS and hydrogen

The Crown Estate logo on a wall

Adrian Topham

Senior Development Manager, CCUS

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