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January 17, 2022

Scottish CCS clusters receive £80m boost to funding bid

Devolved government hopes to advance construction of Acorn CCS plant in Scotland.

By Matt Farmer

The Government of Scotland has pledged $109m (£80m) of funding for the Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Cluster, hoping to acquire national backing.

On Friday, the devolved parliament of Scotland announced that it would provide £80m for the Scottish CCS Cluster if supported under the UK’s “Track-1” scheme. In a statement, the Scottish Government said it aims to develop “three CCS clusters for the price of two” by working with the UK Government.

In October 2021, the UK Government awarded funding to the HyNet and East Coast CCS clusters. These form “Track-1” of the plan, encouraging the projects to start operations by 2025. The Scottish Cluster became a “back-up” for Track-1, with a statement from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy saying the project would move up if either of the other projects did not succeed.

The statement continued to say the project: “met the eligibility criteria and performed to a good standard against the evaluation criteria. We will continue to engage with the Scottish Cluster throughout Phase-2 of the sequencing process, to ensure it can continue its development and planning”.

The Scottish Cluster, also known as Acorn CCS, would export emissions to disused oil fields via the St Fergus gas terminal. The project has the backing of Shell, and will also feature a blue hydrogen project.

Project backers expressed “disappointment” at the decision not to place Acorn CCS into Track-1. The Scottish Government relies on the project to help achieve its net-zero target of 2045. Aberdeen MP Stephen Flynn described the decision as “scandalous”, calling it a “catastrophic blow to Scotland’s net-zero ambitions”.

On the new pledge, Energy Secretary Michael Matheson said: “The UK Government’s decision not to award the Scottish Cluster clear and definitive Track-1 status is a serious mistake which shows a clear lack of ambition and leadership on climate change.

“Delaying or halting the deployment of the Scottish Cluster has serious consequences, including jeopardising the industrial decarbonisation of Scotland and our just transition to net zero, creating an un-level playing field across the UK, and endangering Scottish and UK-wide net-zero targets.

“We do not hold all the necessary legislative and regulatory levers needed to support the Scottish Cluster, as they are not devolved. We cannot simply go it alone with our funding. Our offer of support is therefore made on the basis that the Scottish Cluster is given certainty of its due status within the UK sequencing process.”

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