UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak travelled to Scotland on Monday to announce funding for the country’s Acorn carbon capture and storage (CCS) project.

Sunak confirmed funding for the Acorn Project, located in St Fergus, Aberdeenshire, to BBC Scotland on Monday morning while travelling to the site.

The government has not yet specified how much funding will be allocated to the cluster, but Sunak said there will be “funding available” over the next few years as part of a £20bn ($25.7bn) CCS investment package announced in the spring budget in March.

The Acorn Project previously missed out during the Track-1 CCS funding round, with money being committed instead to two projects in Teeside and Humber in England. Scotland’s devolved government has called for centralised funding from the UK Government for Scottish CCS over the past few years.

In January last year, Scotland’s Government pledged £80m in funding for the Acorn project on the condition that it won financial support through the Track-1 programme. In a statement at the time, the government said it aims to develop “three CCS clusters for the price of two” by working with the UK Government.

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By GlobalData

Along with net-zero rhetoric, the Prime Minister emphasised job creation prospects from the Acorn project in an interview with the BBC. He stated that more than 20,000 jobs could be created or supported as a result of the funding.

Bob Donnelly, managing director of Aberdeen-headquartered oil and gas safety business RelyOn Nutec UK, said in a statement sent by email: “Today’s announcement of funding for the Acorn and Viking CCUS projects in the north-east of Scotland and Humber areas is a step forward for the UK’s energy diversification.

“We are all aware of the challenges that a growing skills gap will present in the coming years, and as such training and upskilling the existing and emerging workforce to ensure that these projects can happen at pace should remain a top consideration for the government and sector alike.”

According to a statement from the UK Government, the funding will “help [the UK] to reach net zero in 2050 and enhance long-term energy security for generations to come”.

Several campaign groups have criticised continued focus on CCS, principally because the technology has not yet been scaled in a meaningful way, despite being around for decades. Friends of the Earth Scotland described the funding as a “dangerous distraction,” suggesting that CCS is being used as an excuse to burn more fossil fuels. Concerns surrounding carbon leaks at CCS sites have also been investigated by scientists.