UK Govern­ment ‘missed chance’ on clean en­ergy

Depart­ment says it re­mains keen

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - NEWS - BY ALLISTER THOMAS

The UK Govern­ment has been con­demned for a lack of ac­tion to sup­port a ma­jor clean en­ergy project near Peter­head.

The ac­cu­sa­tion from the SNP comes four months af­ter a West­min­ster task­force re­port high­lighted St Fer­gus as a key lo­ca­tion for the de­ploy­ment of Car­bon Cap­ture and Stor­age (CCS) tech­nol­ogy.

In 2015, a sim­i­lar project at Peter­head Power Sta­tion, which was ex­pected to bring hun­dreds of jobs to the re­gion, had to be scrapped as the govern­ment with­drew a £1 bil­lion fund to de­velop it.

The move caused po­lit­i­cal uproar, but since then the govern­ment has said it wants to roll out CCS in or­der to meet cli­mate change tar­gets.

In July, the task­force re­port stated the demon­stra­tor Acorn CCS project, run by Pale Blue Dot at the St Fer­gus gas plant, had “unique po­ten­tial” to ex­pand the tech due to its links to the oil and gas in­dus­try.

CCS is used to cap­ture car­bon diox­ide from power sta­tions or in­dus­try and store it un­der­ground in a bid to re­duce green­house emis­sions. The CO2 can then be used for other pur­poses such as cre­at­ing build­ing ma­te­ri­als.

Banff­shire and Buchan Coast MSP Ste­wart Steven­son, who has cam­paigned for de­vel­op­ing CCS at Peter­head, said: “The po­ten­tial for Peter­head as the UK’s prime site for car­bon cap­ture and stor­age is in ab­so­lutely no doubt.

“The UK Govern­ment’s own re­port iden­ti­fies its ‘unique po­ten­tial’.

“But de­spite the UK Govern­ment’s en­thu­si­asm for the project in July, there’s been no signs of progress since – no deal signed, no timescale and no fund­ing com­mit­ted by the chan­cel­lor in last week’s Bud­get.

“It was a huge missed op­por­tu­nity.”

In re­sponse, the Depart­ment for Busi­ness En­ergy and In­dus­trial Strat­egy (BEIS) high­lighted it will be hold­ing a global car­bon cap­ture and stor­age sum­mit in Ed­in­burgh at the end of this month and will set out its plans “later this year”.

A BEIS spokesman said: “Car­bon cap­ture and stor­age rep­re­sents a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity for the UK and will be an es­sen­tial part of our tran­si­tion to a low-car­bon econ­omy.

“It has the po­ten­tial to help us keep nat­u­ral re­sources like gas in the mix for the com­ing decades, while cre­at­ing high-value jobs across the coun­try.”

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