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Climate change is a global challenge

The UK, has significantly reduced its reliance on the fossil fuels that are contributing to global warming.

But, using energy from renewable sources like wind and solar will only take us so far.

And many say it’s the easy part.

We must also reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from industrial sources.

Only this way, will we be able cut our carbon emissions to what must, in effect, be zero by 2050.

But, we can’t simply shut down industry or the factories that make the products we all rely on. Instead we need to find ways to keep industry going but in a way that doesn’t damage the environment. It’s known as a just transition. One that’s fair on everyone, that doesn’t penalise industry or put jobs at risk.

It can be done!

The answer is to capture the CO2 from those industrial sources across the UK and transport it far out into the North Sea and store it safely and permanently deep underground. Carbon capture and storage, as it's known, may sound far-fetched. It's not. It's already being done at more than 40 sites around the world.

In fact the Norwegians have been capturing CO2 and storing it in their part of the North Sea for 20 years.

And there is nowhere in the UK better placed to locate what will become a new carbon management industry than North East Scotland.

Not just because the simple fact of geography puts it closest to the UK’s most suitable carbon storage location – called Acorn, but because much of the key infrastructure needed to transport and store the CO2 is already in place.

The pipelines that were once used to bring gas ashore can be put to good use again transporting CO2 offshore.

And just as this approach makes good economic and environmental sense, it makes good sense too to capitalise on the region’s highly skilled workforce. Men and women with the technical skills and commitment needed to deliver a whole new industry – just as they did when the first oil came ashore in 1975.

The first project is based at St Fergus, a gas terminal just north of Aberdeen, where over a third of the UK’s gas supply comes ashore.

To start with the programme will capture a relatively small amount of CO2 currently being emitted directly from the terminal and transport that out to the Acorn site for safe and permanent storage over two kilometres below the sea bed.

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The other good reason why Acorn is a game-changer when it comes to keeping carbon out of the atmosphere.

By converting the natural gas into hydrogen at source you create a clean fuel – the only emission of any significance is water vapour.

As well as providing fuel for buses and trains, hydrogen could in time give us a much cleaner alternative to natural gas for home heating and industrial uses as well. It's an exciting prospect which Acorn's owners, Pale Blue Dot Energy and gas transport companies, SGN and National Grid Transmission are actively working on.

With half of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions coming from burning natural gas for domestic heating and industry, converting to hydrogen will stop even more CO2 from entering the atmosphere. And the small amount of CO2 that is produced during the hydrogen manufacturing process will itself be captured and stored.

This is another vital step if the UK is to have net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

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Jobs, skills and opportunities for Scotland: The Numbers…

  • A third of the UK’s gas comes ashore in Scotland.

  • Today there are 14,000 full time onshore jobs in Scottish petro-chemical industry and supply chain.

  • Scotland could easily secure up to 40% of the storage element of a carbon capture utilisation and storage programme. By 2030 this would create up to 45,000 jobs.

  • This would mean up to 100,000 new jobs being created by 2050.



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