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By NOAH

Capturing the Carbon Opportunity

Capturing the Carbon Opportunity

Credit: Adobe

Policy@Manchester

5 min read Partner content

A new report by Policy@Manchester with CBI Economics, sets out how carbon capture and storage (CCS) can help accelerate the UK’s decarbonisation mission.

The UK government aims to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions across the economy by 2050. To meet the UK’s net zero targets, industry must urgently adapt existing business models and pivot their operations to decarbonise. Many heavy-emitting industries are difficult to decarbonise, and it is increasingly recognised that carbon capture and storage (CCS) will play an important role in reducing carbon emissions. However, there are policy, regulatory, socioeconomic, and technology-related barriers to the adoption of CCS.

Policy@Manchester, The University of Manchester’s policy engagement unit, commissioned CBI Economics to interview organisations across the CCS supply chain to understand perceptions of CCS, barriers to adoption, and how CCS can be scaled up. The interviews, informed by research from University of Manchester academics, were conducted with businesses at different stages in their CCS journey across various sectors, including international energy companies, power generation companies, infrastructure and machinery companies, and manufacturers. The final report, ‘Capturing the carbon opportunity: Making carbon capture and storage a reality for UK businesses’, presents interview insights, case studies reflecting the views of organisations, and policy recommendations.

Professor Colette Fagan, Vice-President for Research at The University of Manchester, welcomed the report: “By combining research from The University of Manchester’s academics with the voices of industry, this report presents a unique perspective on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to CCS. As climate change becomes an even more present reality of our lives, CCS has the potential to become an essential component in our aims to propel the UK closer to a sustainable future. However, that vision of the future will remain out of reach without the correct intervention of policymakers guided by expert research.”

Rain Newton-Smith, Chief Economist at the Confederation of British Industry stated, “In this report, CBI Economics and The University of Manchester have developed important policy proposals to unleash the potential of CCS. UK businesses are rightly committed to decarbonising, but if policymakers do not act soon to create the conditions for businesses to do so effectively, we will fall short of our goals.”

Several barriers to the adoption of CCS were raised by businesses, which largely corroborated those identified by University of Manchester research. Economic barriers identified by businesses included cost, availability of skills and technology, and the integration of particular sectors. A range of solutions to overcome these barriers were suggested by interviewees, including strengthening collaboration between government, industry and the educational sector.

The importance of shared access to transport and storage infrastructure for emitters across multiple sectors was consistently emphasised. Businesses called for more information on how carbon storage works and agreed that logistics of shipping carbon to storage sites required further attention.

Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Carbon Capture and Storage, Alex Cunningham MP said: “CCS should be central to our ambitions for decarbonising the economy. Action to support CCS technology and infrastructure will ensure energy-intensive industry can remain competitive in a low carbon society, so I welcome this report by Policy@Manchester which offers a real-time view of CCS in the UK.”

‘Capturing the carbon opportunity’ presents evidence-led policy recommendations to help policymakers drive progress and make CCS commercially viable for businesses. These policy recommendations are organised into three clear themes.

CCS should be central to our ambitions for decarbonising the economy. Action to support CCS technology and infrastructure will ensure energy-intensive industry can remain competitive in a low carbon society, so I welcome this report by Policy@Manchester which offers a real-time view of CCS in the UK - Alex Cunningham MP

Firstly, government should stimulate stakeholder engagement to mobilise action and change perceptions, including building on recent engagement with industry and expanding channels with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other sectors, including education. Such engagement would not only foster learning and enable the solving of current and future barriers, but it would also help build trust and confidence between developers, public bodies and civil society.

Secondly, government should provide more clarity on and improve awareness around the future direction of CCS. This should include reviewing the current total level of funding for CCS to determine if it is fit-for-purpose. In doing so, government can reduce uncertainties that may inhibit investment.

Finally, policymakers should consider legislative and policy changes to stimulate adoption of CCS, including reviewing processes to ensure efficient sign-off for important projects. These changes would help to drive adoption of CCS.

CCS has the potential to play a vital role in the UK’s transition to net zero. However, CCS will not become a reality for UK businesses without evidence-led interventions by policymakers. ‘Capturing the carbon opportunity’ reveals that government, with its various policy levers, extensive networks, and significant funding potential, must act quickly to enable businesses to grasp the immense opportunity of CCS.

Policy@Manchester, The University of Manchester’s policy engagement unit, aims to impact lives globally, nationally and locally through influencing and challenging policymakers with robust research-informed evidence and ideas. Visit our website, policy.manchester.ac.uk, to read the full report, ‘Capturing the carbon opportunity: Making carbon capture and storage a reality for UK businesses’. For more information please email policy@manchester.ac.uk.

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