UK awards offshore carbon storage licenses


United Kingdom – The drive to achieve net zero emissions in the UK received a major boost with the announcement of 20 carbon storage licenses for offshore sites.

These licenses, offered by the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), cover areas near Aberdeen, Teesside, Liverpool, and Lincolnshire. The licensing round, launched in June 2022, attracted applications from various stakeholders, with the awarded licenses totaling around 12,000 square kilometers. Once operational, these storage sites could contribute to storing up to 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year by 2030, equivalent to approximately 10% of the UK’s annual emissions.

The UK government’s commitment to carbon capture, usage, and storage (CCUS) was evident in the Chancellor’s Budget announcement, which allocated up to £20 billion to support the development of CCUS projects. Initial projects will be implemented in the East Coast, Merseyside, and North Wales, paving the way for widespread adoption of CCS technologies in the UK as it approaches its net zero emissions target by 2050.

Achieving net zero emissions

The importance of carbon capture and storage technologies in achieving net zero emissions is emphasized by authoritative bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UK Climate Change Committee. These technologies are recognized as crucial for the power and industrial sectors to effectively reduce their carbon emissions. The NSTA’s licensing process considered various factors, including geology, proximity to existing infrastructure, and connections to industrial clusters aiming for decarbonization.


Collaboration and cooperation among stakeholders are paramount for the success of the CCS industry. After obtaining a license from the NSTA, licensees must also secure a seabed lease from The Crown Estate or Crown Estate Scotland. Additional consents and approvals will be required before any appraisal activity can occur on the carbon storage licenses.

The awarded licenses mark an exciting milestone in the journey towards achieving net zero emissions in the UK. Stuart Payne, NSTA Chief Executive, highlights the importance of carbon storage in meeting decarbonization targets and acknowledges the need for integration and collaboration in a crowded offshore space. With ongoing support from governments and agencies, including The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland, the UK’s offshore waters hold tremendous potential for energy security, emissions reduction, and carbon storage.

Infrastructure development

The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland, responsible for managing seabed areas, express their support for offshore carbon injection and emphasize their commitment to facilitating the leasing process for CCUS developers. Their collaborative efforts with the NSTA and other partners aim to ensure the development of the necessary infrastructure while safeguarding marine environments and habitats.

The announcement of the carbon storage licenses has been met with enthusiasm from industry experts. Ruth Herbert, Chief Executive of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, views this as a vital step toward unlocking the UK’s CO2 storage potential, highlighting the urgent need to rapidly develop additional storage capacity.