At least 13,000 jobs could be created by storing carbon dioxide deep below the sea off the Scottish coast, a report has found.
The study by the Scottish Government, industry and researchers found that the Moray Firth could be the site of an emerging carbon capture and storage industry.
Energy minister Jim Mather will unveil a report, entitled Progressing Scotland’s CO2 Storage Opportunities, in Edinburgh this afternoon.
The research calculates that a rock formation, known as the Captain Sandstone - buried more than half a mile beneath the Moray Firth, could store at least 15 years and potentially a century’s-worth of CO2 output from Scotland’s power industry.
“This is an exciting and landmark moment in the development of carbon capture and storage,” said Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (SCCS) professor Eric Mackay.
“The Captain Sandstone is just one of many rock formations filled with salt water in the central and northern North Sea.
“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.”
The SCCS research, funded by the Scottish Government and a group of businesses within the energy sector, showed that carbon capture and storage could create 13,000 jobs in Scotland by 2020, and another 14,000 elsewhere in the UK, spread across a wide range of skills. This would increase in subsequent years.
The report has found that the UK’s share of worldwide carbon capture and storage business could be worth more than £10bn a year by around 2025 if properly developed.
“Our research indicates CO2 output captured from a fossil fuel-fired power station, like the existing plant at Longannet or Peterhead or any future capture projects such as at Hunterston, could be stored beneath the North Sea,” added professor Mackay.
“The unique combination of government, industry and research capability provides Scotland with the opportunity to lead the way in the development of CCS.
“We look forward to further assessment of this and other parts of the North Sea to maximise the economic benefits.”
Mr Mather said this latest research “further strengthens Scotland’s position as the number one location for CCS technology development and deployment in the world”.
“In depleted oil and gas fields and in its natural geology, the North Sea has an amazing carbon storage potential, the largest offshore storage capacity in Europe, offering up the prospect of thousands of new low carbon jobs being created in Scotland as CCS technology develops,” he added.
“Today’s report is welcome and underlines the need to move swiftly to seize the environmental benefits and economic opportunities from CCS.”