Research highlights huge carbon storage potential beneath Moray Firth and predicts industry will support 27,000 jobs by 2020.
Researchers have tipped the UK to land a £10bn share of the worldwide carbon capture and storage (CCS) market by 2025, after a report found rocks under the Moray Firth could hold up to a century's worth of CO2 output from Scotland's power industry.
Yesterday's report predicted the industry could grow to support 13,000 jobs in Scotland and another 14,000 elsewhere in the UK by 2020. Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (SCCS), the government-funded body that produced the report, said the industry could grow even further if provided with adequate support.
The results are particularly significant given that the EU has said three of the eight CCS plants it plans to fund under its demonstration programme must inject into saline aquifers such as the Captain Sandstone rock found beneath the Moray Firth.
"The Captain Sandstone is just one of many rock formations filled with salt water in the central and northern North Sea," said Professor Eric Mackay from SCCS. "We have shown that this is a feasible site that could store massive amounts of CO2, helping the UK meet its targets for carbon emissions reduction. The future potential for this and other areas of the North Sea is immense."
Scottish Energy minister Jim Mather welcomed the results of the report, titled 'Progressing Scotland's CO2 storage opportunities', arguing that it "cements Scotland's position as the number-one location for CCS technology development and deployment in the world".
But he urged Westminster to help kick-start the industry north of the border by backing ScottishPower's Longannet project, the only remaining entrant in the government's own £1bn CCS funding programme.
"CCS can create thousands of new low carbon jobs in Scotland and we must move quickly to seize the full economic and environmental opportunities," Mather said. "We now need the UK Government to recognise the Scottish potential and award a CCS demonstrator project to Longannet, the outstanding contender left in the UK competition."
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