A new alliance of industry, academics and government will today officially launch a programme to deliver industrial decarbonisation in Scotland through the deployment of the UK’s first carbon capture, usage and storage technology.
The industry led coalition, known as NECCUS, will be instrumental in driving forward the development of CCUS which is recognised as essential if Scotland is to meet its target of reducing its carbon emissions to net zero by 2045.
The official agreement will be signed at Holyrood today at 15:00 GMT by Scotland’s Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse, MSP and NECCUS CEO Mike Smith and a range of industry heavyweights as well as experts from Scottish universities, who have come together to tackle climate change on an industrial scale.
CCUS is becoming increasingly commonplace around the world as a way of mitigating climate change.
At its simplest, the technology involves capturing the carbon that’s emitted from power plants which burn fossil fuels or energy intensive industries such as chemical and steel producers and then storing the greenhouse gas safely and permanently in rock formations deep below the seabed.
Scotland’s project will take this tried and tested technique further by creating hydrogen which can be used as an alternative to high carbon fuels such as coal, oil and gas for heat and power.
Hydrogen is increasingly being used in the transportation sector such as Aberdeen’s new fleet of hydrogen buses, where the only emission is water vapour.
CCUS coupled with hydrogen production alongside renewable energy and reforestation - as well as more sustainable production of food and consumer goods - will be an essential component of Scotland’s carbon emission reduction target five years before the rest of the UK.
It is also key to the UK’s clean industrial growth challenge, which earlier this year put carbon emission reduction as one of five ‘grand challenges’ that need to be tackled and require state investment.
The first phase of CCUS will see the Acorn CCUS plant operational in 2024 at the St Fergus gas terminal, 35 miles north of Aberdeen.
By 2025, the backers say, they will be ready to take carbon dioxide from other major emitters from across the UK and Europe - transporting the gas to the site through repurposed pipelines and by specially designed ships.
In the same timeframe hydrogen will be produced from natural gas that comes ashore at St Fergus, before being piped to customers across Scotland, further reducing CO2 emissions.
NECCUS CEO Mike Smith said, “We’ve made great progress with wind, solar and other renewable technologies over the last 10 years. But the need to decarbonise our economy is urgent so we must build on the good start the UK has made by addressing the hard to decarbonise sectors like heat, heavy industry, transport, and chemicals.
“The only way we can achieve that is with the deployment of CCUS. NECCUS, with its unrivalled support from all sectors of industry, academia and Government is now set to deliver on doing just that.”
Chris Stark, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change said, “Carbon capture and storage is a necessity not an option for enabling the UK as a whole to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”