Scotland looks to hydrogen and CCS in pathway to net zero


The Scottish government has launched over 100 new policies and proposals to support a green recovery in Scotland and just transition to net zero, with hydrogen and carbon capture storage (CCS) both areas of focus.

On 16 December, it published an updated 2018-2032 Climate Change Plan, seeking to reflect the “world’s most ambitious framework of climate targets” that were set out in Scotland’s Climate Change Act 2019. Since the original publication of the plan, Scotland has set out the reduce emissions by 75% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, and reach net zero by 2045 with Covid-19 not impacting these ambitions. Instead, the Scottish government stressed that as the country emerges from the virus, it now has the chance to rebuild its economy in a way that delivers a greener, fairer, more equal society.

By 2032, Scotland’s energy system will be in the middle of a “major transformation” as it integrates new ways of producing, transporting and using energy with existing technologies. It forecast that by 2032, it will generate at least the equivalent of 50% of its energy across heat, transport and electricity demand from renewable sources. By this time, it highlighted that Scotland will have benefited from the development of new, pioneering infrastructure such as that used for CCUS, hydrogen and green hydrogen production.

A £180mn Emerging Energy Technologies Fund was announced, one which will support the development of Scottish hydrogen and CCS industries over the next five years, while providing impetus to the development of Negative Emissions Technologies.

It stressed the development of a hydrogen economy presents a substantial economic opportunity for Scotland, with hydrogen able to contribute in industry, transport, the electricity sector and heat. The Scottish government pledged to publish a Hydrogen Policy Statement before the end of the year, setting out its strategic priorities when it comes to various applications of hydrogen in Scotland’s energy system, before a Hydrogen Action Plan is published in spring 2021. It will identify and develop the opportunities for generation hydrogen from renewable electricity generation in ways that can support the integration of new wind, solar and marine capacity.

CCS, meanwhile, was cited as “essential” for achieving net zero emissions, with the Scottish government pledging to carry out detailed research, development and analysis during 2021 to improve its understanding of CCS and the potential to deliver negative emissions from the electricity sector.

As well as highlighting its own plans, the Scottish government also identified a series of key asks for the UK government, including for it to fully explore options for hydrogen to play a role in direct power generation itself, and supporting and enabling the commercialisation of negative emissions technologies, CCS and hydrogen in the electricity sector as well as others, with it noting that the electricity sector has substantial potential for these technologies with support mechanisms such as CfDs a driver for technology development.

Honing in on CCS, the plan stressed its development urgently requires a stable policy environment that consists of suitable incentives, the right regulatory environment, business models and financial frameworks. It called for the use of electricity support mechanisms to be combined with a wider framework to develop CCS, enabling negative emission technologies commissioning in the UK from the mid-2020s.