PLANS to convert the North and South Morecambe gas fields for carbon capture and storage have taken a further step forward.

Spirit Energy, with the support of majority shareholder Centrica Plc, and Stadtwerke München GmbH (SWM), has been granted a carbon storage licence by the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA).

The company said The MNZ (Morecambe Net Zero) Cluster has the potential to be one of the biggest carbon storage and hydrogen production clusters in the UK.

It will be able to store up to a gigaton of carbon dioxide - the equivalent of three years’ worth of current UK CO₂ emissions.

The project will be able to accept CO₂ transported by pipeline, ship and rail. 

Neil McCulloch, CEO of Spirit Energy, said: "I am extremely pleased and proud that we have been granted a licence by the NSTA to repurpose the depleted North and South Morecambe gas fields into a world-leading carbon storage hub. This is an important step forward in developing our project which will provide an effective way for emitters to tackle their carbon emissions and meet Net Zero targets.

"Spirit Energy has ambitions for the two gas fields to form the core of a green super-hub. This would explore opportunities like direct air capture, the manufacture of blue hydrogen, the production of green hydrogen, the integration of other renewable power generation facilities, and energy storage - all of which would put Barrow and the North West on the map as a centre for low-carbon innovation."

Last month, Spirit Energy submitted a qualifying Expression of Interest for the MNZ Cluster to be considered as part of the Government’s Track 2 CCUS Cluster Sequencing process.

The Cluster’s carbon stores will provide long-term access to a sustainable carbon storage solution for the UK’s carbon-intensive industries, helping tackle its emissions while still supporting the many thousands of reliant jobs across the UK, the companies have said.

Chris O’Shea, chairman of Spirit Energy and CEO of Centrica plc, said: "At Centrica, Net Zero is our business, helping us deliver a decarbonised energy system. I’m delighted we’ve been awarded this licence to move forward our plans for carbon capture and storage.

"Morecambe Bay has the ability to become a world-leading carbon storage facility and could see the creation of thousands of jobs in the North of England. We look forward to progressing plans with our partners to support the UK’s leading Net Zero ambitions and stand ready to invest over £1 billion in this project pending the outcome of the Track 2 process."