Nov 4, 2020

Scottish Renewables calls for net-zero energy commission

Dominic Ellis
3 min
Manifesto for 2021’s Scottish Parliament election sets out key recommendations for Scotland’s next government
Manifesto for 2021’s Scottish Parliament election sets out key recommendations for Scotland’s next government...

The next Scottish government should establish a net-zero energy commission to provide the country with a national net-zero pathway, which would bring society together as it works towards a greener future, according to industry body Scottish Renewables.

Launching its Manifesto for 2021’s Scottish Parliament election on November 3, the industry body also calls for the appointment of a Cabinet Secretary for Energy and Net-zero Transition, as well as the opening of an office of the Climate Change Committee, which would provide expert, tailored advice for Scotland.

The document, A Brighter Future: Priorities for the next Scottish Government, sets out key recommendations for the next government to capitalise on to improve wellbeing, strengthen the economy, sustain the environment and establish Scotland as a renewable global powerhouse.

Claire Mack, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables (pictured), says: "The challenges facing our economy and our environment have never seemed greater and this election is pivotal to the future direction of our nation. We already know that Scotland’s renewable energy industry is an incredible success story, providing 90 percent of our electricity and heating 387,000 of our homes.

“The economic potential is huge too, with every gigawatt that is installed, 1,500 jobs are created and £133 million is added to our economy. The coronavirus pandemic provides an opportunity to reap these benefits and rewrite our approach to tackling climate change to ensure that renewable energy is at the heart of our economy.

“Our manifesto recommends that the next Scottish Government works with our industry to develop a Renewable Energy Economic Plan in which it should increase its 2030 renewable energy target from 50 to 60 percent. To achieve these ambitious goals will require changes to our planning system, which is currently a time-consuming process with outdated policies requiring renewable energy schemes to prove that they are needed,” she adds.

“Our manifesto also recommends the introduction of a low-carbon assessment into the planning process to recognise net-zero as a material consideration. Renewable energy also brings significant benefits to some of our most remote regions, many of which are still reliant on the use of dirty coal, oil, and LPG boilers.”

Mack states that the next government should phase out fossil fuel heating, and urges the establishment of a Rural Heat Decarbonisation Fund to support Scotland’s island and rural communities to transition to green heating systems by 2030.

The Scottish Renewable manifesto also calls on the next Scottish Government to:

  • Lead a clean energy revolution by ensuring Scotland’s public sector harnesses the full solar energy potential of its buildings by 2030
  • Utilise its trade and investment powers to promote Scotland’s renewable energy skills and technologies to nations seeking a green economic recovery
  • Facilitate a just transition for Scotland’s oil and gas professionals, supply chain businesses, tradespeople and public servants and remain committed to delivering the Green Jobs Fund and National Transition Training Fund, developing the skills and expertise needed to achieve net-zero
  • Establish a Renewable Energy Skills Centre of Excellence to ensure that training and professional development remains relevant to the new innovative and emerging technologies needed to power Scotland’s net-zero journey
  • Commit to the delivery and expansion of the 46 potential heat networks identified in Scotland’s cities
  • Revise Scottish Planning Policy and building regulations to ensure new-build communities are heated by renewable sources
  • Help meet the 2GW community and locally owned energy target by 2030 by providing non-domestic tax relief and streamlining all funding and support into the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme
  • Accelerate existing low-carbon transport plans by expanding electric bicycle hire stations, zero-emissions zones and by building Scotland’s green hydrogen economy to provide transport fuel

“The recommendations set out in our manifesto can help our environment flourish, strengthen our economy and benefit every community across our nation, cities, towns, rural areas and islands,” Mack continues.

“Scotland needs a vibrant renewable energy sector, and it’s vital that Scotland’s politicians support it.”

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Jul 29, 2021

Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030

Dominic Ellis
4 min
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades says the UK's National Infrastructure Commission

Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission

Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.

The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.

The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture. 

It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.  

The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020. 

Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.

The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.

While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.

Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.

Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse. 

"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.

“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.” 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets. 

Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.  

Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."

McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:

  • Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
  • Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
  • Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
  • Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
  • The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere

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