And OGUK – the trade body representing the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry – this week reiterated how key Acorn and many more future carbon capture and storage (CCS) cluster projects are to the UK’s ability to achieve its target of net zero emissions by 2050.
The investment would come from the Scottish Government’s Emerging Energy Technologies Fund.
The proposal is to work with UK Government to develop “three CCS clusters for the price of two” and grant the Scottish Cluster clear and definitive Track 1 status in its carbon capture sequencing process.
Acorn was classed as a ‘reserve’ project for the two Track 1 carbon capture cluster projects in North-west England and Teeside given the go-ahead for deployment in the mid-2020s by the UK Government last October.
Energy Secretary Michael Matheson met virtually with UK Government’s Minister for Energy Greg Hands on Thursday, setting out the funding offer and pressing the UK Government to provide certainty for the Scottish Cluster.
Mr Matheson said: “The UK Government’s decision not to award the Scottish Cluster clear and definitive Track-1 status is a serious mistake which shows a clear lack of ambition and leadership on climate change.
“Delaying or halting the deployment of the Scottish Cluster has serious consequences, including jeopardising the industrial decarbonisation of Scotland and our just transition to net zero, creating an unlevel playing field across the UK, and endangering Scottish and UK-wide net zero targets.
“That is why I am announcing that we stand ready with up to £80 million of funding to help the Scottish Cluster continue and accelerate the deployment of carbon capture technology.
“Unfortunately we do not hold all the necessary legislative and regulatory levers needed to support the Scottish Cluster, as they are not devolved. We cannot simply go it alone with our funding.
“Our offer of support is therefore made on the basis that the Scottish Cluster is given certainty of its due status within the UK sequencing process, and I once again urge the UK Government to provide this certainty for the benefit of our energy sector and for our ability to deliver a just transition to net zero.”
OGUK said the St Fergus’ Acorn and other projects could help the UK capture up to 100 million tonnes of carbon per year to decarbonise sectors, including heavy freight and marine transport, as well as steel, chemical and cement manufacturing.
OGUK Sustainability Director Mike Tholen said: “In accelerating these carbon capture projects, the UK is laying a key part of the infrastructure for its net zero future. It is a crucial first step but scale is essential if the UK is to make itself carbon neutral by 2050.”
He looked forward to Acorn and other projects progressing to ensure sufficient energy is generated “to keep the country functioning, with homes heated and schools and hospitals powered, but in a way that helps us meet our climate goals”.
Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Karen Adam welcomed the Scottish Government’s funding commitment, claiming the “Westminster Tories” betrayed the North-east when they snubbed the Acorn Project.
She said: “The Scottish Government is once again having to go above and beyond to make up for the deficit caused by the Conservatives abandoning the North-east.
“The amount of money the North-east has poured into the coffers of the UK Treasury over the past few decades has been astronomical. The UK Government is always happy to take our tax revenues but never willing to invest here.”