Carbon capture and hydrogen production in Scotland to be focus of Westminster inquiry

The part Scotland can play in the UK’s drive to reach neutral greenhouse gas emissions and develop a new sector based on hydrogen is the focus of a new inquiry by Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee.

The future of green and blue hydrogen production and carbon capture in Scotland will be considered as part of the investigation, as well as identifying what further support would be required to incorporate the gas into the UK energy mix.

The inquiry comes after the UK government set out intentions to back hydrogen production as part of its plans to create a low-carbon economy and achieve net-zero by 2050.

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Ambitions laid down in its Net Zero Strategy and Hydrogen Strategy include a target to create five gigawatts of low-carbon hydrogen capacity in Scotland by 2030, making the most of the country’s renewable energy strengths and potential for carbon capture.

Carbon capture and storage will be considered as part of a new Westminster inquiry into Scotland's role in the UK's move to net zero and creation of a hydrogen sector

The North Sea Transition Deal also outlined the importance of the gas, stating the opportunities for green hydrogen production – made without using fossil fuels.

How to ensure a ‘just transition’ for the oil and gas industry will also be explored, as well as ensuring the skills are in place for a hydrogen-ready workforce.

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The inquiry is open for submissions until 1 March.

Scottish Affairs Committee chair Pete Wishart said: “The net zero ambition and moves towards a low-carbon economy presents opportunities for all corners of the UK, particularly Scotland.

“As we identified in our recent report on renewable energy in Scotland, there are endless opportunities with wind and tidal energy.

“We are going to look at low-carbon hydrogen production, and this will mean considering the use of carbon capture to lock away carbon emissions.

“In this inquiry we will be considering the role Scotland can play in a hydrogen economy and how the UK government can support a just transition for Scotland’s oil and gas sector.”

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Scotland’s Acorn project, based at the St Fergus gas terminal in Aberdeenshire, missed out on the UK government’s first round of funding for carbon capture – with cash going instead to schemes in Humberside and Merseyside.

Andrew Brown, head of hydrogen for Storegga, lead developer for the Acorn project, has welcomed the inquiry.

He said: “The Scottish Cluster will deliver deep decarbonisation across Scotland with hydrogen production a key part of this transition.

"Storegga is committed to developing low-carbon hydrogen projects.”

But environmental campaigners have warned leaders against pinning hopes on carbon capture technology to reduce emissions, claiming the technology will encourage extraction of oil and gas to continue and hamper efforts to combat climate change.

Dr Richard Dixon, Friends of the Earth Scotland director, said: “This inquiry is a chance for MPs to expose the myths and the wishful thinking around hydrogen and carbon capture technologies.

“Oil and gas companies are using hydrogen and carbon capture as their latest greenwashing trick to keep on drilling and exploiting fossil fuels when instead we need to be urgently transitioning to renewable energy in a way that's fair to workers and communities.

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“The committee must hear from a wide range of voices on the controversial plans to plough more public money into these technologies and not just from the cheerleaders aligned to the oil and gas industry."

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