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£1.8 billion boost predicted as work continues on Cumbrian carbon storage site

Spirit Energy, which operates the Morecambe Bay Gas fields in Barrow, has published a new report detailing the impact of their plans to repurpose the depleted gas field site into a world-leading carbon store.

Spirit recently partnered with a consortium of cement and lime producers in the Peak District to permanently store nearly four million tonnes of industrial CO₂ emissions in the Morecambe Net Zero (MNZ) carbon store each year from 2030.

The report, published today, states that the partnership will:

  • Generate an economic boost of £1.8 billion to the local area by 2050
  • Create and safeguard more than 13,000 jobs in vital industry
  • Attract a further £5 billion investment in construction and operations
  • Deliver an annual increase of £154 million in skills uplift and wage increases

The report highlights opportunities to accelerate new routes to market for commercially mature carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects – to unlock private investment and ensure the UK can hit its net-zero targets.

New economic analysis reveals the MNZ partnership will generate the equivalent of £1.8 billion GVA, creating and protecting more than 13,000 jobs across the UK’s industrial heartlands across Cumbria, Derbyshire and Staffordshire.

The partnership will also help decarbonise 40% of the UK’s cement and lime industry, ensuring that close to four million tonnes of industrial CO₂ emissions are stored annually from 2030.

The partnership is calling for three key measures to expedite the delivery of CCS projects to understand the growth potential of CCS and deliver significant socio-economic benefits to the UK.

Provide an accelerated route to market for technically and commercially mature CCS projects

To continue to drive private sector investment in CCS and ensure that supply of carbon storage meets demand, there must be a clear additional pathway for delivery to new market participants.

Deliver reliable carbon pricing on which CCS business models can be based

A predictable and stable carbon price trajectory – that ensures that emitting carbon is more expensive than storing these emissions – will bolster investor confidence in UK CCS projects, drive private sector investment and minimise the need for taxpayer support.

Begin the market transition phase and support workable CCS business models

CO2 on the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). A clear, transparent, and public benchmark will mean the Government only needs to fund mature CCS projects when they are operational – meaning all development and capital expenditure will be owned by the private sector, protecting and creating jobs, and delivering higher wages without the need for significant upfront taxpayer money.

Neil McCulloch, CEO of Spirit Energy, said: “Carbon capture and storage projects such as MNZ are going to play a pivotal role in delivering net zero in the UK and beyond.

“MNZ is uniquely well-placed to provide scale in the right place, at the right time, to hit government targets and deliver the CCUS Vision with greater certainty. Our ask is modest and pragmatic policy reforms that can then enable MNZ to drive industrial decarbonisation, growth, new green jobs, and economic opportunities in the UK.”

Neil McCulloch, chief executive, Spirit Energy

Alex Cunningham MP, chair of the carbon capture usage and storage all=party group said: “The MNZ Peak Cluster partnership is one of the most exciting prospective CCS projects I have seen.

“It is one of the most advanced projects in the UK, offering an opportunity to repurpose one of the UK’s largest gas fields into a world-leading carbon store, accepting carbon from an industry that has been a cornerstone of the Peak District’s economy for centuries.

“Beyond the significant economic benefits of the project, the scale of storage on offer makes the MNZ Peak Cluster a project that will be nationally and internationally significant.”

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