When world leaders gather, hopefully in person, for COP26 in Glasgow in November, they will try to find building blocks of agreement to make urgent progress on climate change.
Scotland as host, has an opportunity to show leadership. It can play a key role in speeding up changes needed to decarbonise the energy system.
One area COP26 will focus on is the role of renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But renewables can only take the world so far to achieving net zero. There are no short-term, low-carbon solutions in some key parts of the economy, such as steel, cement and concrete and other heavy industries. Currently, only traditional fuels can generate the intense heat some processes require. For these industries, the world must use technology to keep emissions out of the atmosphere.
One technology is carbon capture and storage (CCS). It will be important to Scotland reaching its target of net zero by 2045 – and the UK being net zero by 2050. The UK’s independent Committee on Climate Change says CCS is a “necessity, not an option” for net zero plans.
Scotland has unique potential to capture, transport and store CO2 at scale, using existing pipeline infrastructure and rock formations deep under the seabed. It has a 50-year track record of innovation and developing skills and expertise in the North Sea oil industry and the determination to deliver world-class projects.
The UK government’s £1 billion pledge to accelerate CCS is vital, and more government incentives will help scale up the technology.
CCS is essential to Shell’s own target of being a net zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society’s progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. As part of our efforts, we are working with Storegga and Harbour Energy on the Acorn project to capture CO2 from Scottish industrial sites, including the St Fergus gas terminal, and store it offshore. Acorn aims to receive CO2 from industry elsewhere in the UK and Europe.
By 2030 Acorn, which is being put forward for UK government support, could store at least half the CO2 in the UK government’s Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution. This could include emissions from power generation, such as the CCS-equipped plant SSE and Equinor are planning.
Shell has experience and expertise in CCS. We are partners in large-scale development projects in Australia and Norway, and our facility in Canada is already capturing 1 million tonnes a year. We intend to have access to an additional 25 million tonnes a year of CCS capacity by 2035.
By showing leadership in CCS, Scotland can help pioneer this new expertise in the energy sector, boosting jobs and local suppliers. With COP26, six years after Paris, Scotland has the opportunity to accelerate change to help the world reach its climate ambitions.
Simon Roddy is Senior Vice-President for Shell’s Upstream business in the UK. Simon is writing in support of the Back the Scottish Cluster campaign, pressing the case for the Scottish Cluster in the BEIS cluster sequencing process.