Britain launches first licensing round for carbon storage sites

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Smoke rises above a factory at sunset in Rugby, Britain February 10, 2021. REUTERS/Matthew Childs

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LONDON, June 14 (Reuters) - Britain has put its first round of sites for carbon capture and storage up for bids from potential users, with 13 on offer, the North Sea Transition Authority said on Tuesday.

The country aims to use CCS technology, which involves filtering planet-warming carbon from industrial smokestacks before it hits the atmosphere and storing it underground, to hold 20 million to 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030.

While CCS can help carbon-heavy industries to cut their emissions, it is yet to be deployed on a large scale anywhere in the world, as current carbon prices do not yet lure big investment into the technology.

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"This round is envisaged to be the first of many, as it is estimated that as many as 100 CO2 stores could be required in order to meet the net zero by 2050 target," the NSTA said.

"The level of interest already expressed suggests there will be strong competition, meaning that prospective licensees will need to produce high-quality bids to win licences."

The sites are a mix of depleted oil and gas fields and porous rock formations containing seawater, and come on top of six licenses granted under a pilot scheme. Applications close on Sept. 13, with awards handed out early next year.

Britain's greenhouse gas emissions stood at around 425 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent last year, according to government data.

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Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Jan Harvey

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