Scotland is doing well – most days our electricity is completely generated from renewable sources – but as the nation prepares to host the crucial UN COP26 climate change conference in November we are determined to go further and faster in meeting our climate targets.
Our future global leadership in clean energy and clean industry will rest on collaboration, integration, innovation and investment. At stake is the future of our planet but also a potentially huge economic growth bounty and the securing of tens of thousands of skilled energy supply chain jobs.
Collaboration has taken a leap forward with the creation of the Scottish Cluster. This silo busting, cross-sectoral group, comprising representatives from our biggest carbon emitting industries, is actively championing ground-breaking decarbonisation technologies.
The scale of the ambition is huge by necessity – the Cluster seeks to remove millions of tonnes of carbon from operations. Technological advances are what will make possible our vision of Scotland as a leader in CO2 transportation, storage and carbon removal technologies like direct air capture.
The concepts are proven and projects like Acorn demonstrate that. What we need now is for the cost to significantly come down and the scale to go up; investing in technology innovation is key to achieve that. The UK has the opportunity to create a leading net zero supply chain, to decarbonise domestic industrial production and export technology to other countries.
At the Net Zero Technology Centre we are actively accelerating real-world development and deployment of ground-breaking technologies and building a unique database of net zero technology solutions for the entire sector.
Our role is to act as both a champion and a catalyst for unlocking the power of innovation by bringing together technology developers, supply chain, investors and energy operators.
In our recent research we identified that getting decarbonisation right could lead to big rewards both in terms of preserving domestic industrial production and achieving Net Zero.
Among the key low-carbon technology areas that we have identified for fast-track investment and development are innovative blue hydrogen production processes including more efficient methods of splitting methane; higher temperature and reversible
electrolysers to enhance green hydrogen production; electrification using hydrogen powered turbines; retrofitting oil and gas pipelines for CO2 transport; and innovative solvents and membranes for carbon-capture.
The Net Zero Technology Centre is investing at pace to turn aspiration into reality. So far, we have co-invested £176 million in technologies which have the potential to generate £10-15 billion in GVA. We currently have 49 field trials planned or already live and have progressed more than 20 technologies to commercialisation.
Our aim is to transform the North Sea into a net-zero integrated energy basin. Once we decarbonise Scotland, we can export that capability to the rest of the UK and the world. The size of the prize is compelling: the preservation of our natural ecosystem and the creation of a world-leading green energy ecosystem that drives growth, creates jobs and secures prosperity. We will make this happen by investing at pace, closing the technology gap and maximising the economic and environmental benefit for all.
Luca Corradi, Innovation Network Director, Net Zero Technology Centre