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NECCUS - Being real about industrial decarbonisation and what does Snow White have to do with it anyway?

NECCUS - Being real about industrial decarbonisation and what does Snow White have to do with it anyway?


In the middle of this record-breaking summer, it’s easy to forget the winter just gone. And while it wasn’t especially cold – we had the Warmest New Year’s Day on record – we did see some extraordinarily powerful winds. Storm Arwen bought havoc to the UK’s infrastructure in November with Storms Dudley and Eunice doing more damage in February. By any measure, this weather is weird and getting weirder, so much so that we’d have to go a very long way to find a scientist to disagree with the notion that we are responsible for these shifts in climate patterns through our emissions of greenhouse gases. And with every passing of another weather event, be it hottest, coldest, strongest or wettest there is no time for dopey false equivalence here.

The scientific community and governments concur that we as a species need to reduce our emissions before the damage we are self-evidently doing to the planet becomes irreparable. In May 2022 the US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration documented that its monitoring station in Hawaii averaged 421 parts per million of CO2 for the month. This is about the same level as earth experienced 4.1 to 4.5 million years ago. This is not about saving the planet – earth will endure, changed, perhaps sleepy but continuing. It will be our civilisation that will reap what has been sown over modern times. 

NECCUS was formed late in 2019, just in time to witness one of the other great cataclysms of our time (Covid-19), as a membership organisation, a platform, and a network by which information can be shared and transferred between all those interested in developing a low carbon industrial future for Scotland, whether they be industrial emitters, academics, professional services firms, or supply chain companies. NECCUS is the central convening body that delivers that convergence. 

And while decarbonising Scottish industry might sound like a simple objective it is, of course, fiendishly complex. NECCUS, with the support of its members manages projects that will allow both a greater understanding of what is required, but also sets out what needs to be done to achieve that. We manage Scotland’s Net-Zero Roadmap (SNZR) project with funding from Innovate UK and major industrial partners to identify pathways to decarbonisation for 28 of the top 30 emitters of CO2 in Scotland. The SNZR project will report later this year. We are also closely involved with Scotland’s NET-Zero Infrastructure (SNZI) project.

Our members benefit from monthly newsletters setting out policy updates, funding opportunities, and funding calls, project updates in Scotland, updates about other UK and international projects and a list of major forthcoming events. Members also get access to policy makers at government and decision-making level as well as plenty of opportunities to meet like-minded organisations to understand each other’s interest in or progress towards decarbonisation. 

A series of webinars brings up to date information and allows for members to explain their role and capabilities. Our first major in-person event is being planned for early 2023 where we intend to showcase Scotland’s achievements but also the challenges.

The latest published figures for 2020 show that CO2 from regulated industries in Scotland are running about 10.6 million tons per annum (Mt pa). The happy news is that this is down from 26.5 Mt in 2007. For those of a grumpy disposition who say that 2020 was an exceptional year for emissions due to Covid, the data suggests that this is part of a more prominent downward trend. However, more needs to be done for Scotland to meet its world leading target of Net-Zero by 2045. The industrial energy sector has largely decarbonised, and it is now down to the hard to decarbonise sectors of industry to play their part.  Scottish Ministers support NECCUS and the Scottish Cluster in promoting Carbon Capture and Storage. This is seen as mission critical for meeting the targets (the UK Target is Net-Zero by 2050), but also as the primary means to maintaining our industrial base, allowing industry to continue, and importantly maintaining jobs. This will be key to achieving not just Net-Zero but also the Scottish Government’s ambition of achieving a Just Transition too.

Scotland has a world class resource offshore for the safe storage of millions of tons of CO2. Phase 1 alone is planned to store about 150 Mt. This facility will allow not just CO2 from Scotland to be safely stored but also provides the opportunity to reduce costs by shipping CO2 from the rest of the UK and indeed further afield.

The UK Government has estimated that at least £15bn will be spent by 2030 by four industrial clusters in implementing CO2 storage solutions. This investment will be supported by up to £1bn of Government funding, which will include commercial business models. 

We should not be bashful about saying that Carbon Capture and Storage can be operational in Scotland by 2029 with 6 Mt pa being stored rising to 20 Mt pa by 2035. This is an industry and a sector on the cusp of delivery.

You may now rightly ask what has Snow White got to do with it? Very little, except that I’ve mentioned all her dwarves except one, if you want to find out more about that one, or indeed have ambitions to decarbonise then please contact NECCUS through our website.


Read the latest issue of the OGV Energy magazine HERE

Published: 22-08-2022

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