Carbon Capture and Storage deployment in Scotland could support 3,000 jobs and boost UK economy by £300M per annum by 2042

16/05/2024

More than 3,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs could be supported and £300 million generated for the wider UK economy through the establishment of a CO2 Transport and Storage (T&S) sector in Scotland linked to the deployment of Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) in the UK, according to new research.

The findings, published in a report from the Centre for Energy Policy (CEP) at the University of Strathclyde, suggest that action on worker and skills shortages will be key to realising these economic gains.

The jobs and GDP figures for a T&S sector that is fully operational by 2030 are respectively 300% and 84% higher than estimates for a scenario where no action is taken to alleviate current and persisting labour market constraints and pressures.

The study was undertaken by CEP as part of the Scotland’s Net Zero Infrastructure (SNZI) programme – funded by UKRI’s Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge and focusing on the Acorn T&S system, one of four supported by the UK Government.

Economic gains could be further amplified if a Scottish T&S sector develops an export market to sequester emissions from elsewhere in the UK or overseas. The full-time equivalent jobs supported could increase to just over 4,900 and GDP to nearly £490M per annum by 2042. These projections are based on continuing government support into the early 2040s.

Professor Karen Turner, Lead Investigator and Centre for Energy Policy Director, said: “Lessons from CEP’s research on establishing a CO2 T&S sector in Scotland suggest there are significant potential gains to be had in terms of jobs and economic growth.

“Benefits emerging across the wider economy could offset the costs of the investment needed and those of government support. Yet, as with other efforts across the net zero space, a focus on addressing persistent skills and worker shortages is crucial. This is in terms of both maximising economic gains, and enabling a just transition that delivers sustainable and more equitable prosperity.

“Government and industry must work together to consider the sequencing of projects to avoid the potential congestion effects of increased demand and competition for resources associated with multiple net zero and other infrastructure projects coming online simultaneously.

“This will be vital to ensuring that costs to projects, to the wider economy, and ultimately to taxpayers are not driven up unnecessarily. It will also ensure the timely completion of projects that are necessary for the UK to achieve its net zero goals.”

In its CCUS vision, the UK Government sets out an ambition of a self-sustaining market by 2035. An important challenge is what form of Government support may be required after that point, which is likely to depend on how international markets – both for CCUS services and the greener products produced with its use – evolve and develop.

The evidence presented in the CEP report reflects the findings and recommendations of the recently published report by the Green Jobs Delivery Group’s CCS Task and Finish Group, to which CEP also contributed.

This latter report highlights the potential transformative role of CCS in the net zero transition if the skilled workforce is available in the right place and at the right time. This vital issue of timing was also underscored by the SNZI research, which pointed to the potential cost implications of deploying the four T&S systems at the same time.

Without effective planning and due consideration given to timing, the fuller set of results set out in the SNZI report demonstrate how this could lead to ‘congestion effects’ that would act to constrain economic expansion and exacerbate competition for resources such as labour.

This will ultimately lead to increased costs both for projects and across the wider economy.

CEP will be holding an event on these issues at the forthcoming All-Energy Exhibition and Conference 2024, Industry Decarbonisation 4: What will establishing a CO2 Transport and Storage industry in Scotland mean for the economy and society?

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