The Scottish Government has today published its first Energy Strategy, providing a vision for our low-carbon energy future as we seek to meet essential climate targets and commitments.
The strategy sets out six priorities in a holistic approach to providing Scotland with low-carbon heat, power and transport.
SCCS welcomes the inclusion of carbon capture and storage (CCS) in one of the six priorities and, therefore, the recognition of its vital role in tackling our carbon emissions across the whole economy – decarbonising gas and industry as well as back-up thermal generation.
As mentioned in the strategy, the delivery of CCS will be a vital part of a just transition for the oil and gas industry. It can provide the bridge from fossil fuel dependency to a zero-carbon future. A number of reports have already shown that CCS can bring economic benefits and jobs to Scotland. The strategy rightly points to the role of CCS in preparing the sector and its workforce for a positive role in Scotland’s future energy system.
However, it needs to explicitly mention the current tension between decommissioning ambitions and the need to retain existing pipeline infrastructure for repurposing to carbon dioxide (CO2) transport. This crucial issue is alluded to in the section about CCS (page 66) but is absent from the discussion of decommissioning (page 63).
We would suggest that applications for funding through the Decommissioning Challenge Fund need to be assessed against criteria that properly take into account the potential for re-use of the infrastructure, so that opportunities for repurposing are not lost because of a current lack of business case.
We would also like to emphasise the important role that Scotland’s oil and gas workforce will play in developing CO2 transport and storage – the skills and experience in that sector will be vital to maximising the opportunities that CCS can bring to Scotland.
We are pleased to see the inclusion of a 50% renewables target for all energy. The CCS sector has consistently pointed out that the technology is complementary to renewables rather than being in competition with it. And we look forward to working closely with the Scottish renewables sector and environmental NGOs in realising this target.
We also welcome the recognition that planning has a role to play in delivering the energy strategy and supporting CCS. Although energy is a reserved matter, many of the policy levers that can move energy in the right direction – such as planning – rest with the Scottish Government. This underlines the Scottish Government’s commitment to doing everything in its power to deliver CCS in Scotland and also influence the UK Government on its policy. However, we must not lose sight of the need for firm policy and financial commitment from Westminster.
The forthcoming consultation on a publicly-owned energy company is to be applauded. But we wonder if this could include an embedded low-carbon quality standard, which would provide a boost for low-carbon electricity.
It goes without saying that we welcome Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse’s recognition of Scotland’s academic expertise and we look forward to continuing to work with Scottish Government on developing and delivering a CCS industry, not just for the UK but worldwide.
Other actions that we welcome in the strategy include support for the Acorn CCS project in north east Scotland, which could see the delivery of cost-effective, small-scale CCS infrastructure, which can eventually be built out to handle carbon emissions from multiple sources, including Europe.
Prof Stuart Haszeldine, SCCS Director, said:
The Scottish Energy Strategy shows that, if you look at the whole picture, more and diverse actions are needed, including the capture, re-capture and secure burial of waste carbon, which is causing climate change. Analysing all the energy sectors across Scotland, using real data, takes us to the reliable conclusion that we need to be more efficient with our energy supplies, we need to produce clean energy from different technologies but we also need CCS as part of that mix - to supply clean low-cost hydrogen, to decarbonise industry and clean up fossil fuel use in our transition to a zero-carbon future.