Dismissal of CCUS means ‘no clear path’ to future-proof Scottish industry

The UK government has announced its choice of the East Coast Cluster and HyNet North West to become the UK’s first Carbon Capture, Use and Storage (CCUS) clusters by the mid-2020s. The Scottish Cluster has been established. designated as a reserve project.

We welcome the announcement as a milestone for the UK’s Net Zero ambitions and congratulate both projects in the first phase for reaching this milestone. This is great news as it moves the UK from ambitious declarations on decarbonising industry to meaningful action. Today’s level of ambition places the UK on the path to the most carbon-free industrial economy in the world.

However, we are concerned that other cluster initiatives across the UK have not been supported. If we are to reach the sixth carbon budget, as defined by the Climate Change Committee, they must all be up and running as soon as possible, with UK industrial regions moving forward together.

We are very disappointed that the Scottish cluster, which represents one of the most promising avenues to decarbonize industries in the UK – and also in Europe – is by default track 2 of the cluster sequencing process with no defined timeline in place. . With the Acorn project at its heart, the Scottish cluster would serve a diverse set of industries. Indeed, Scotland’s NECCUS alliance represents around 40 different industry players, more than any other cluster coalition. With today’s decision, there is no clear path for the sustainability of the Scottish industry, which may now be in jeopardy.

© SCCS
Stuart Haszeldine

There is no incentive for a new industry to invest in Scotland and an expiration date is set for existing industries. This is a pivotal time in the offshore oil and gas industry and the absence of a CCUS project in Scotland makes it more difficult for the workforce and communities to transition, with thousands of jobs at stake.

Previous UK CCS competitions have proven how difficult it is to keep project teams up and running if top prizes are awarded elsewhere. They have already waited 15 years but will not wait forever. From that point on, with no path to CO2 storage, Scotland’s goal of net zero by 2045 becomes more costly to achieve. If the upscaling spreads to Scotland, we are now asking for a tangible commitment from the UK government to support Track 2 projects.

The SCCS Partnership has, for many years, used scientific rigor and innovation to support the development of CCUS in the UK. Our motivation stems from the desire to implement effective climate action. We will continue to engage in UK and international efforts to address the continuing challenges of the CCUS sector and expand scope of these technologies.

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