Scotland viewed as ideal location for closed-loop CO2 market

As Scottish energy ministers meet with UK Energy Secretary Greg Clark to discuss "back-tracked" support for Scottish Islands renewables projects worth £2.5bn, a new report has claimed that re-using carbon dioxide could create a £500m market for Scotland.

The report, published today (10 April), by the University of Sheffield has claimed that 600 new jobs could be created in Scotland by reusing carbon dioxide. Specifically, the report noted that around 500,000 tonnes of distillery sector biogenic CO2 could be turned into a new Scottish export, as inorganic fertiliser.

Commissioned by Scottish Enterprise, the report provides an overview of the viability of re-use CO2 in Scotland. The report noted that a £500m market could be created by placing innovative technologies into the oil, gas, paper, wood and energy-from-waste industrial sectors that could capture 4.3m tonnes of carbon.

The University of Sheffield’s Dr Grant Wilson, principal author of the study, said: “For most countries and policy makers around the world, carbon dioxide is viewed only as a problem that needs to be controlled. However, with the ongoing development of novel technologies and processes for the re-use of CO2 it is also starting to be viewed as a potential resource that could be exploited.

“This report identifies that Scotland has a unique combination of key advantages and a real opportunity to explore and develop its carbon dioxide resources. It is also important to note that it is one of the first countries in the world to even consider the creation of a roadmap for the re-use of its carbon dioxide, in essence to view CO2 as a resource.”

One of Scotland’s advantages is the significant levels of biogenic CO2 that it releases as a by-product of the fermentation of malted barley in the Scotch Whiskey sector. The report notes that around 500,000 tonnes is produced annually, all of which could be converted and sold as inorganic fertiliser.

The report names Grangemouth as the ideal location to create a “Co2 utilisation hub” in Scotland. The area hosts the 10 largest CO2 emitters in the country. However, the report is quick to highlight that carbon re-used should not be seen as a substitute for carbon capture and storage (CCS) methods.

Earlier this year, an Indian chemicals company introduced a world first to the carbon capture market, by utilising subsidy-free technology to turn CO2 from its own boilers into make base chemicals with a wide range of uses. Elsewhere, edie spoke to high-tech polymer supplier Covestro on its plans to utilise carbon re-use to assist the development of its products.

Island opportunity

The report arrives as Scottish ministers meet with Energy Secretary Greg Clark to discuss the Government’s recent consultation as to whether Island renewable projects should be treated differently to traditional onshore wind projects.

A consultation ran until January to gather views and information on whether Island wind projects – which are currently ineligible for CfD support – would benefit from being included in future auctions. Clarke has claimed that his department would be visiting the relevant Isles, but claimed he would hold-fire on a CfD decision until he was “personally informed”.

Discussions taking place today will focus on approving the support for the Island projects. An independent report has found that the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland could receive a £725m economic boost if they were converted into renewable outposts, while the development of these projects would trigger an initial investment of £2.5bn.

Scotland’s energy minister Fergus Ewing said: “Responses to the UK Government’s consultation show the case for supporting island wind projects is stronger than ever – our own submission was robust and credible. The projects under discussion would deliver tangible economic benefits to the communities involved while helping to ensure resilience in GB market electricity supplies. I look forward to making this positive case during our meeting with the Secretary of State.”

Green policy changes have placed Scotland’s renewables sector in a “state of flux”, with the Scottish Affairs Committee noting policy amendments to the Renewables Obligation (RO), Feed in-tariffs (FiT) and Contract for Difference (CfD) auctions as contributions to an uncertain future.

Matt Mace

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