The report titled ‘Actions required to develop a roadmap towards a Carbon Dioxide Utilisation Strategy for Scotland (2016)’, was commissioned by Scottish Enterprise to provide an overview of whether the re-use of CO2 could hold potential for Scotland and to recommend a number of actions to develop the sector.
The CO2 emissions from Scotland are predominantly from the use of fossil fuels from industrial sectors such as Oil and Gas, Paper and Wood and energy from waste. In previous years these large emitters produced 10 million tonnes per year, of which 4.3 million tonnes were identified in the report as having potential for capture.
Interest also lies with significant levels of biogenic CO2 which is released as a by-product of the fermentation of malted barley in the Scotch Whisky sector - estimated to be in the region of 500,000 tonnes each year.
The study suggests that the Grangemouth region is the location most suited to create a CO2 utilisation hub on a large industrial scale. It is the largest manufacturing region in Scotland and host to ten of the largest CO2 emitters. However, the report makes clear that the development of the CO2 re-use sector should not be seen as a substitute for the development of a Carbon Capture and Storage sector.
The principal author of the study Dr Grant Wilson from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Sheffield commented;
“For most countries and policy makers around the world, carbon dioxide is viewed only as a problem that needs to be controlled. However, with the ongoing development of novel technologies and processes for the re-use of CO2 it is also starting to be viewed as a potential resource that could be exploited.”
“This report identifies that Scotland has a unique combination of key advantages and a real opportunity to explore and develop its carbon dioxide resources. It is also important to note that it is one of the first countries in the world to even consider the creation of a roadmap for the re-use of its carbon dioxide, in essence to view CO2 as a resource.”
“This provides a very powerful message in terms of Scotland’s belief in considering all available options to decouple its future economic activity from emissions.”
The report presented a case study with a potential to be scaled up to a £500m market, sustaining 600 new jobs and a new Scottish export by utilising innovative UK technology to convert the estimated 500,000 tonnes of distillery sector (biogenic CO2) into inorganic fertiliser.
The development of this technology could be of interest to Scotland as a way to help decarbonise part of the agricultural sector through the introduction of inorganic fertiliser that is not derived from fossil fuels. The Scottish Government recently published their latest Climate Change Plan and Energy Strategy for consultation, which mentions carbon dioxide re-use and carbon capture and storage as areas of potential development.
Although the University of Sheffield report found that Scotland holds a number of key advantages to develop a carbon dioxide re-use sector, there are several areas of uncertainty that would benefit from more detailed analysis.