By David Bol Political Correspondent
SCOTLAND is set to restart its economy as the country emerges from the
Covid-19 crisis by harnessing “limitless quantities of renewable energy
potential” and could wipe out gas central heating with “green hydrogen” in
a bid to cut carbon emissions and create more than 100,000 new jobs over
the next 30 years.
The Scottish Government hopes to kick-start a green revolution to boost the
economy which has shrunk by almost a quarter since the start of the
coronavirus pandemic.
Ministers have already dedicated £62 million of funding to help push
forward renewable hydrogen projects and technology attempting to capture
and store carbon. But environmentalists have labelled carbon capture as a
“dangerous distraction” from tackling the climate emergency.
Scotland has committed to becoming net carbon zero by 2045 – but has
struggled to meet its own targets for reducing emissions.
A pivotal report into how the Scottish Government should restart its
economy has been drawn up by Benny Higgins, which stresses that “the green
economic recovery is central to the recovery overall”.
It adds that Scotland should use “limitless quantities of renewable energy
potential from wind, wave and tidal power” which “can be used to generate
electricity surpluses to export to the rest of the UK and elsewhere”.
The reports also suggest using “green hydrogen to use in the heat and
transport sectors”.
SGN is already investing in hydrogen as other methods of replacing gas
central heating such as ground source and district models or PassivHaus
technology can be expensive and invasive to retrofit in existing homes.
In Fife, SGN is hoping to build the world’s first 100 per cent green
Hydrogen network which will power 300 homes in Levenmouth.
SGN’s director of energy futures, Angus McIntosh, said: “The network will
get the green hydrogen from a process called electrolysis powered by an
offshore wind turbine in Levenmouth. Green hydrogen can also be produced
from excess renewable electricity that would otherwise go unused. “If it
secures funding this year, H100 Fife will be a world first project that
will put Scotland at the front of the queue in terms of research and
development in this area. As part of the Gas Goes Green programme, it will
provide critical research and development on how to deliver hydrogen as
zero carbon heating in Scotland.”
The company is also hoping to produce “blue hydrogen” at the St Fergus Gas
Terminal to Aberdeen in a new dedicated hydrogen pipeline.
Mr McIntosh said: “It would initially supply the network with a hydrogen
blend of up to 20 per cent, increasing to 100 per cent following a complete
network conversion to hydrogen. “The carbon dioxide captured when the
natural gas is reformed into hydrogen at St Fergus would be stored under
the North Sea.”
He added: “Investment in projects like H100 Fife, Aberdeen Vision and the
wider hydrogen economy as part of the green recovery could create and
support around 1,500 engineering, construction and business support
function jobs in 2020/21 – and in excess of 100,000 by 2050. “Scotland is
uniquely placed to produce green hydrogen thanks to its world leading
offshore wind capacity and blue hydrogen thanks to existing North Sea
But environmental campaigners have warned that the report “fails to set out
any new thinking or concrete measures that would deliver the transformation
change needed to reduce emissions”.
Caroline Rance, climate and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth
Scotland, said: “Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is nothing but a
dangerous distraction from the urgent task of reducing emissions and ending
the use of fossil fuels. “Worldwide, CCS has received billions of dollars
in investment over the past decade, but it still isn’t working at the scale
promised and it likely never will. “Hydrogen is being touted as the
solution to all our problems at the minute, but we really don’t need it for
heat and transport. It should only ever be considered in limited
circumstances, such as when there is excess renewable electricity on
islands. The priority should be increasing energy efficiency of homes,
replacing gas boilers and oil tanks with renewable heat pumps or district
heat networks, and further electrifying the rail and bus networks.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been an
unprecedented global crisis which has fundamentally changed every aspect of
our lives and the immediate focus for the Scottish Government continues,
rightly, to be on protecting lives and livelihoods. However, we also
recognise the economic impact this will have and we have been clear that
green investment will form a central part of our recovery from this
difficult time. “We have a chance to re-imagine the Scotland around us, and
to begin building a greener, fairer and more equal society and economy.
“We will consider all 25 of the report recommendations and respond by the
end July.”

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