Scottish Affairs Committee Hydrogen and Carbon Capture Report

In its study on hydrogen and carbon capture in Scotland, the UK House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee finds that Scotland may hold the key to the widespread adoption of both technologies throughout the UK.

With its considerable renewable energy potential and ready-to-transition expertise from the oil and gas industry to hydrogen with carbon capture as the UK goes beyond fossil fuels, Scotland may be the ideal location for green hydrogen.

According to the Scottish Affairs Committee study, unless carbon capture is implemented widely, the UK would be unable to reach its net zero targets and make the transition away from damaging fossil fuels. Scotland has the technology in place to reform gas into hydrogen at St. Fergus, and thanks to the North Sea oil and gas reserves, the country has access to secure geological storage for carbon. The research offers 24 conclusions and suggestions on hydrogen policies, carbon capture and storage, low carbon hydrogen export, hydrogen storage, employment and skill development, and hydrogen for residential use.

Without carbon capture, net zero is little more than a pipe dream, according to Scottish Affairs Committee Chair Pete Wishart. The hydrogen potential is undoubtedly present, and our committee is impressed by the energy company pilot programs for green energy in Scotland that make use of our enormous renewable energy potential. Yet, the UK Government’s twin-track strategy has huge policy gaps, none more so than those around carbon capture. The fact that the Acorn Project, which already has a lot of the necessary infrastructure in place, has been shelved is extremely disheartening, and the lack of any clarity is seriously undermining industry confidence. At the budget meeting next week, clarification is required.

The 180GW of recoverable installed wind capacity in Scottish waters, which greatly exceeds Scotland’s and much of the UK’s demands, was disclosed to the Committee. This presents a special opportunity for the UK to assume a dominant position in the world market for hydrogen exports. Yet, despite this and the fact that both the Scottish and UK administrations have set lofty goals, little seems to be happening in terms of the policy. By 2026, the UK government must decide on using hydrogen for residential heating. The Committee suggests that the UK Government needs hydrogen-ready boilers in all appropriate properties as soon as is practically possible in order to prepare for this.

Although the Committee notes that the UK and Scotland governments’ ties in this regard seem to be positive, there doesn’t seem to be a feeling of urgency in the many matters that must be resolved before hydrogen can be implemented. This comprises significant choices about the generation of hydrogen, planning choices, storage, and transportation. Confidence in the sector will be largely dependent on interim goals for tracking progress and a schedule for when significant milestones will be reached.

Acorn’s carbon capture and storage (CCS) and hydrogen project, among others, are at risk due to disappointing delays in decision-making on the Track 2 CCUS cluster sequencing. Acorn is essential to achieving the UK’s and Scotland’s decarbonization goals as a member of the Scottish Cluster. Acorn is strategically located to take natural gas and transform it into clean-burning hydrogen while capturing, removing, and storing CO2 emissions. Acorn is housed at the current gas terminal in St. Fergus in Aberdeenshire. At industrial complexes like Grangemouth, the hydrogen created can then be utilized as a clean-burning fuel to replace fuel oil.

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