During the recent blockade of the Peterhead Power Station by environmental protestors it was clear that they did not share the net-zero goals of either the UK Government or the Scottish Devolved Administration.
Not content with net-zero – which both of Scotland’s Governments have put into law – they want absolute zero carbon emissions, through ceasing all hydrocarbon exploration and production.
Besides the impact this would have on local jobs and the economy it is neither practical nor realistic to expect two thirds of the world’s energy demands to be left unfulfilled while we build the required renewable and low-carbon capacity to replace it.
What needs to happen is an ‘energy transition.’
Capacity in renewable and low-carbon electricity, heat and transport is increasing rapidly
We will become less dependent on fossil fuels over time, but the transition needs to be managed.
As well as changing sources of energy, we also have the opportunity to transfer many of the required skills, expertise and technology that already exists in the oil and gas industry.
We have already seen a transition away from coal towards the cleaner burning natural gas in power generation in recent decades.
And last week, the UK Government announced that unabated coal would be removed completely from the UK’s energy mix by 2024 – a whole year earlier than previously predicted.
Natural gas can also be used as a source of hydrogen which is often seen as a ‘miracle fuel’, with the only waste product from its combustion is water.
When you extract hydrogen from natural gas, you are left with carbon – and this is where carbon capture and storage (CCS) comes in.
I met with SSE, the operators of Peterhead Power Station, recently and I was delighted to hear of their plans for a new low-carbon power station at Peterhead, which will tie in with the existing Acorn CCS and Hydrogen project at St Fergus.