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Offshore Wind and CCS Colocation Forum commissions vital viability research

29 November 2023

The Offshore Wind and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Colocation Forum ("the Forum”), set up to provide strategic coordination of colocation research and activity on the nation’s seabed, has commissioned two research projects designed to inform the best approach to test and demonstrate the colocation of offshore wind and CCS activities in the future.

To achieve the UK’s net zero targets, the UK Government is targeting the delivery of 50 gigawatts of offshore wind energy and the capture of 20-30 million tons of CO2 per year by 2030. Such ambitious targets, alongside the competing demands from other offshore sectors, will place increased demand on finite seabed space, making the colocation of offshore wind and CCS increasingly important. 

The research projects – Project Colocate and Project Anemone - build on the Forum’s Spatial Characterisation Report, which identified areas of potential overlap for offshore wind and CCS on the seabed, and NSTA’s Seismic Imaging Report, which explored various options for monitoring carbon storage and offshore wind sites to help resolve possible colocation issues.

Delivered by the University of Aberdeen with funding from The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland, Project Colocate will investigate the viability of areas on the seabed for colocation of CCS and offshore wind, with bespoke monitoring plans for each area, supporting the Forum’s ambition to create a pipeline of potential test & demonstration sites for the future. Researchers from the University of Aberdeen will focus their investigations on the East Irish Sea and Central North Sea, both of which have been identified as having significant potential for future colocation of CCS and offshore wind. 

The complementary Project Anemone will explore mutually beneficial opportunities arising from the colocation of these developing industries. The project aims to identify and map the routes to realising these opportunities to create practical guidance for how offshore wind and CCS technologies can operate alongside each other – from construction through to decommissioning. The Forum is liaising with NECCUS, the alliance supporting industrial decarbonisation in Scotland, alongside several developers, to deliver Project Anemone, with more details to be published shortly.  

Adrian Topham, Chair of the OW & CCS Colocation Forum at The Crown Estate, said: 

“The offshore wind and CCS capability of the UK needs to develop at a rapid rate if the country is to meet its 2050 net zero target and build electricity supply. The Crown Estate is determined to maximise the potential of the seabed by ensuring a coordinated approach to its management that enables the colocation of offshore wind and CCS infrastructure. This is in keeping with The Crown Estate’s long-term and holistic approach to managing the land and seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland in a way that supports net zero and energy security, whilst protecting the natural environment.  

“Project Colocate will identify areas of the seabed that are potentially viable for colocation, whilst Project Anemone will help uncover how future practical demonstration might proceed. Together, both projects will help pave the way for test and demonstration, as well as facilitating greater collaboration and understanding between these two vital sectors.”

Tom Mallows, Head of Offshore Development for Emerging Technologies and Infrastructure, at Crown Estate Scotland, said: 

“Our ScotWind Leasing round, which saw the successful awarding of 20 projects with a combined intended installed capacity of 27.6GW, and our most recent offshore wind leasing round INTOG (Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas), demonstrates the huge clean energy opportunity which offshore wind offers. It also highlights how important Project Colocate will be in helping establish a clear set of measures and tools to help ensure CCS is provided for in a considered and complementary way alongside offshore wind as an essential component of the transition to a decarbonised economy.

“As co-sponsors of Project Colocate, we look forward to supporting CCS and offshore wind developers to work together in a way that optimises the use of our seabed’s vital resources in helping achieve net-zero.”

Professor John Underhill, University Director for Energy Transition and Professor of Geoscience at the University of Aberdeen said: 

“There is a pressing need for establishing a robust workflow to assess, critically evaluate and identify suitable and viable areas of the seabed for colocation of offshore wind and CCS. Project Colocate will critically assess the future potential of the seabed for the co-existence of offshore wind and CCS, helping to inform the work regulators and other key stakeholders are doing on marine spatial planning to optimise its potential.”

Chaired by The Crown Estate, the Offshore Wind and CCS Colocation Forum brings together partners including NSTA, Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA), RenewableUK, OWIC, Government and Crown Estate Scotland to identify the key challenges and opportunities associated with the colocation of offshore wind and CCS infrastructure.

The Forum forms part of The Crown Estate’s and Crown Estate Scotland’s shared ambition to adopt a long-term approach to seabed management by providing strategic coordination on how the UK can maximise the potential of the seabed for these two critical activities. As part of this approach, The Crown Estate has recently commenced pioneering work to digitally map the seabed resource needed to meet future demand, enabling the delivery of multiple priorities including net-zero and nature, as well as the enhanced coordination of future activities out to 2050.


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