Net-Zero Technology Centre unveils funding competition for low-carbon innovation

The £10m funding competition is for low-carbon technologies that can be trialled and deployed within the UK continental shelf

The Net Zero Technology Centre was formed through the Aberdeen City Region Deal, backed by £180m of UK and Scottish government funding. It aims to mobilise innovative, low-carbon solutions to be deployed in the North Sea.

The Centre has today (8 March) unveiled a £10m funding competition for low-carbon technologies that can be trialled and deployed within the UK continental shelf.

The 2022 Open Innovation Programme will consist of two phases. The first will allocate £7m for initiatives focused on CCS, hydrogen and clean fuels, renewables and energy storage, zero-emissions power, venting and flaring, integrity management and late-life and decommissioning.

The first £7m competition will open next week, with a further £3m competition for data, automation and smart technologies to run in October this year.

The Net-Zero Technology Centre’s solution centre director Myrtle Dawes said: “The launch of the 2022 Open Innovation Programme marks an update to our funding model, moving from an open call for ideas to two funding competition windows with specific technology focus areas.

“Following COP26 it is clear that we need to urgently focus on accelerating the delivery of technologies that will secure our net-zero ambitions. Our updated funding model will allow us to concentrate on specific technology gaps to develop and commercialise the innovative technologies that are currently in the prototype and demonstration phase and ultimately drive the huge leaps in clean energy innovation that will deliver our 2050 emission reduction targets.”

North Sea issues

The North Sea has been a contentious battleground for efforts to reach net-zero emissions.

Last month, the Green Alliance published a new report warning that tax reliefs and subsidies that are paid to gas companies operating in the North Sea are wasting taxpayer money.

Some MPs have been vocal in their support for more drilling for oil and gas in the North Sea, especially given the spike in global gas prices. However, the Green Alliance states that opening new fields in the North Sea would be “uneconomic” given the “unstoppable rise” of clean technologies and the need to hit long-term climate goals.

The Government’s continued support of new oil and gas in the North Sea has attracted criticism from green groups and from other nations, who argue it undermines the UK’s credibility as COP26 host and could undermine its 2050 net-zero target and 2035 commitment to end unabated gas-fired electricity generation. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has recommended that no new oil and gas exploration and extraction capacity be brought online to give the world the best chance in the transition to net-zero.

Last month, the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) granted approval for the Abigail oilfield in the North Sea to developers Ithica Energy.

There have, subsequently, been reports that the Treasury is pushing the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the OGA to fast-track the development process for six additional oil and gas fields in the North Sea.

Matt Mace

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