If you take all the different energy industries, solutions and technologies laid out like a jigsaw it would create a colourful picture of where Scotland is today, with each key element playing an important part in our net-zero future.
That energy future, in terms of heating homes, fuelling transport and decarbonising industry is one that involves increasing electrification, hydrogen fuel switching, and recognises carbon capture and storage playing a critical role, as outlined in more detail in the sector innovation CCU action plan.
The UK Committee on Climate Change describes the development of a carbon capture and storage network as a “necessity, not an option” to achieve net-zero emissions and this is a key part of the Scottish Government’s green recovery to net-zero as outlined in its Climate Change Plan update.
From its industrial strengths in oil and gas, and the development of a thriving renewable sector with innovation in floating offshore wind, tidal power and carbon capture, in its transition to a low-carbon energy future, Scotland continues to punch above its weight.
Scottish Enterprise is supporting that through advice, funding and networks and our recently published business plan outlined the emerging hydrogen economy as a key focus area.
In addition, our Net Zero Framework for Action underpins the importance of supporting businesses to transition to climate-related economic opportunities.
Scottish Enterprise has also commissioned research into the hydrogen economy due to be published soon that has assessed the assets at our disposal, including the technology and transferrable skills, that will make Scotland a world-leading producer and exporter of clean hydrogen.
Between 7,000 and 45,000 jobs could be associated with combined carbon capture utilisation and storage by 2030 and figures from the UK Hydrogen Taskforce suggest that hydrogen production could generate £18 billion and support more than 75,000 jobs in the UK over the next 15 years.
Scottish Enterprise has supported energy transition and integration over several years: from early research into carbon infrastructure, transport, and storage and support of key projects at Grangemouth and Peterhead.
The Acorn project has prepared a bid to the UK Government’s Cluster Sequencing process and Scottish Enterprise has supported them with this vital application for what is both an important regional project for north-east Scotland and another key element in the national energy mix.
The Acorn project will be a vital contributor to our net-zero future as it aims to store between 5 and 10Mt/yr of CO by 2030, more than half the CO2 emissions set out in the UK Government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.
Scottish Enterprise is part of the advisory board of Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage and has also played a key role in setting up the Neccus (pronounced nexus) alliance of government, industry and academia whose membership includes some of those companies who are currently heavy carbon emitters but are working to create an emissions reduction road map.
All of these initiatives form part of the jigsaw, to not only contribute significantly towards Scotland’s ambition to be net-zero carbon by 2045, but also to establish sustainable manufacturing businesses that will develop technologies, products and services that can be exported across the globe.
Capturing the economic benefit of carbon capture will create new business models, jobs and prosperity across Scotland, as well as ultimately delivering a greener future, and in the year we host COP26 we have the opportunity to show the world what we have the potential to do.
Andy McDonald is head of low-carbon transition at Scottish Enterprise, which supports the Back the Scottish Cluster Campaign from Neccus.