Westwood: Project delays threaten UK’s ambitious CCS targets

November 29, 2023

(WO) – A new report from Westwood Global Energy Group reveals that, while the UK has potential to far exceed its carbon capture and storage (CCS) targets, delays, cancellations and under-delivery still pose significant risk. Following the UK’s first Carbon Storage Licensing Round, the findings underscore the critical nature of setbacks in government funding, congested license work programs, and challenges in securing access to CO2.

Westwood analysis highlights that, based on current reported project schedules, the UK is on track to exceed its upcoming carbon storage targets. By 2030, there is potential for up to seven carbon storage sites with capacity for over 45 MMtpa, double the lower end of its target. Encouragingly, the research uncovers that the UK is also well-placed against its 2035 ambitions and could look to reach over double its 50 MTPA target.

However, Westwood assesses the implications of potential setbacks on the existing carbon storage project pipeline, unveiling that even minor delays will mean the UK misses its 2030 targets. By modelling a scenario where Track-1 clusters maintain phase 1 progress but have a two-year delay to subsequent phases and all other announced projects are delayed by two years, the research emphasizes the need for timely project completion.

Stuart Leitch, New Energies Research Manager, Westwood said, “While the forecast carries an optimistic outlook, project targets and reality can often differ. Delays and project under-delivery are not uncommon, and Westwood scenario analysis highlights the importance of the government’s support to ensure the prompt commissioning of projects to reach its own targets.”

Catherine Horseman-Wilson, Senior Analyst - NW Europe, Westwood continues, “The industry is grappling with a series of challenges, from funding delays and congested work programs, to access to CO2 and co-location and infrastructure re-use difficulties, so the likelihood of delays can’t be ignored. The UK has a significant opportunity, with a strong capability to surpass its targets, but contingency planning will be a crucial element in securing its full potential, particularly in ensuring the strict adherence to schedules and maintaining a reliable CO2 supply.”

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