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First Minister visits SSE Thermal’s Peterhead Power Station

20 Jul 2023

The First Minister has called on the Scottish Cluster to be given the go-ahead as soon as possible during a visit to SSE Thermal’s Peterhead Power Station.

Humza Yousaf MSP made the comments while meeting apprentices and graduates at the power station, which plays a critical role in keeping the lights on and supporting Scotland’s energy system.

SSE Thermal has set out plans to decarbonise its Peterhead site through a new carbon capture plant which would ultimately replace the existing station, with the project a key part of the Scottish Cluster.

The UK Government has set out plans to decarbonise four industrial clusters by 2030 using carbon capture technology, with the first two clusters now progressing in England’s north-east and north-west. The next two clusters have yet to be formally selected, despite the UK Government in March confirming that the Scottish Cluster was ‘best-placed’ to meet the eligibility criteria.

At the heart of the Scottish Cluster is the Acorn project, the transport and storage infrastructure which projects would connect into. Until formal selection takes place, the Scottish Cluster is unable to develop that infrastructure, which risks delaying a new generation of low-carbon projects in the region.

First Minister Humza Yousaf MSP said: “The Acorn scheme should be given approval now, so that we can take advantage of our unrivalled access to a vast CO2 storage potential and our opportunities to repurpose existing oil and gas infrastructure.

"CCS will play a pivotal role in achieving a just transition for our workforces, capitalising on existing world-leading skills and expertise to create many good, green jobs in the coming years."

First Minister Humza Yousaf

The First Minister added: “Despite the UK Government confirming in March that Acorn is ‘best-placed’ to meet the eligibility to be awarded Track-2 status, which would allow access to financial support from the UK Government, they continue to fail to provide a clear timetabled solution for the next stages of the process. This is entirely unacceptable and layers further uncertainty on top of never-ending delays which are impacting investor confidence and which compromise our climate-change commitments and just-transition ambitions.”

SSE Thermal and Equinor’s Peterhead Carbon Capture Power Station could become Scotland’s first flexible power stations equipped with carbon capture technology. The planned station would connect into the Scottish Cluster’s CO2 transport and storage infrastructure.

During his visit, the First Minister heard about the current role Peterhead Power Station plays in Scotland’s electricity system as the only plant of its type north of Leeds. He also heard about the importance of flexible generation and the need for low-carbon power to backup renewables and met with numerous apprentices and graduates who are forging a career at Peterhead.

Catherine Raw, Managing Director of SSE Thermal, said: “To unlock the potential of Peterhead and the wider region, it is vital that the Scottish Cluster is brought forward urgently, allowing the development of decarbonisation projects to be accelerated and Scotland’s net zero ambitions to be met. Doing so will not only help us meet our energy goals, it will also support industries and provide a fair and just transition for workers and communities across the north-east of Scotland, including at Peterhead.

“SSE has set out plans to invest up to £40bn in the next decade, including more than £21bn in Scotland alone. Renewables will be at the heart of that investment but we also recognise the need for flexible generation to provide backup when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.

“Our existing Peterhead station fulfils that role today, playing a critical role in Scotland’s energy system. Now, as we bring forward plans for a new station with carbon capture technology, we are determined to deliver the next generation of low-carbon power at the site.”