Carbon capture technology can be used to turn greenhouse gas methane into clean hydrogen and graphene – John Hartley

Carbon capture is being advanced all over the world at a phenomenal pace

Many of us started our week hearing about a new multi-million-pound carbon capture project in Aberdeenshire being given the green light. The news has prompted many questions, not least “what is carbon capture and what role should it have in the energy transition?”

Put simply, carbon capture, utilisation and storage, or CCUS as it is known, is a process to capture carbon generated by energy production or energy intensive activities. This can include trapping carbon from industries such as agriculture, or steel and cement production, and storing it somewhere (usually underground) so it can’t be released into the atmosphere. However, the positive impact of this tech is only truly unlocked if you mobilise the U – utilising the captured carbon effectively, rather than burying it.

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The Acorn scheme announced yesterday will simply store carbon under the seabed, but CCUS takes many more environmentally beneficial forms. For example, driving this a step further toward net zero in Annan, Dumfries and Galloway, technology will be deployed later this year that will turn captured methane into clean hydrogen and graphene. This hydrogen can be used as a source of clean energy, while the graphene can be part of a circular economy, both decarbonising existing heavily polluting materials, such as concrete, and transforming the performance of future energy infrastructure like battery cells and solar panels.

Carbon capture technology is being advanced all over the world at a phenomenal pace, with the Global CCS Institute putting the number of large-scale facilities globally at 194 last year, up from just 51 in 2019. To that end, while most of us will agree that we need to transition to clean energy as quickly as possible, we also need to find climate solutions to help us rapidly decarbonise the industries we rely on today. Carbon capture with effective utilisation capabilities must be part of our arsenal of measures if we’re going to prevent an irreversible and catastrophic rise in temperature.

The scaling of CCUS in Scotland will bring significant benefits. It is imperative that we decarbonise our hard-to-abate industries, and it is clear that Scotland is well-placed to lead the way here.

John Hartley is chief executive of climate tech business Levidian



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