Holyrood’s energy minister has described Scotland as “potentially the best placed country in Europe” to deliver carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) on a commercial scale.
During his keynote address at the Society of Petroleum Engineers Aberdeen Section’s virtual CCUS Conference 2020, Paul Wheelhouse MSP said the Scottish Government has “resolute support” for the technology and recognises the key role it has to play in reducing carbon emissions.
According to the International Energy Agency, CCUS could reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by 19% and that without it, the cost of efforts to battle climate change could increase by 70%.
Both the UK and Scottish Governments have made moves in recent years to encourage the development of the technology domestically.
In June, Holyrood announced it had set up a £62 million Energy Transition Fund to help the energy sector recover from the dual economic impacts of Covid-19 and the oil price crash and to support diversification over the next five years.
The Scottish Government currently has a legally binding target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2045.
Mr Wheelhouse said: “The development of CCS has the potential to offer a range of exciting opportunities for Scotland’s workers. Scotland already has the expertise and transferrable skills to kick start what could become an important new industry, essential to supporting our energy transition.
“There’s an opportunity that’s presented with being an early mover in CCS, coupled with our vast storage assets, and we hope Scotland can support and capitalise on decarbonisation across Europe. Securing a significant proportion of the carbon storage element of the emerging European CO2 management market will provide opportunities and employment through the supply chain.
He continued: “To support our understanding of how industry may develop, the Scottish Government this year commissioned an economic impact assessment that will develop our estimates of job creation and understanding of the potential economic impacts.
“It’s therefore clear that, coupled with our existing oil and gas capabilities, our ready supply chain and strategically important industrial clusters, Scotland is potentially the best placed country in Europe to realise CCUS on a commercial scale.
“It is clearly a vital component of our energy transition – it’s crucial for industrial decarbonisation, creating options and providing industry with the flexibility to transition our products and services to net zero.”
Mr Wheelhouse also urged the industry to “seize the opportunity” presented by the Acorn project in Aberdeenshire.
The flagship development at the St Fergus Gas Terminal near Peterhead, which is being run by energy consultant Pale Blue Dot, is split into two elements concentrating on CCUS and hydrogen development.
Mr Wheelhouse said: “The project is considered the most advanced CCS project in the UK ans is expected to be operational by the mid-2020s – that being the case, we have to seize that opportunity for Scotland.
“Acorn plans to import CO2 for storage via shipping from 2026, which will provide opportunities to support the decarbonisation plans of our European neighbours.
“The project is perfectly located next to key infrastructure assets and also has options for low carbon hydrogen production. The successful development of carbon capture, transportation and storage facilities could also open up further complimentary activity, including direct air capture, bio energy and CO2 utilisation.”
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