To drive the reduction of emissions from the extraction of offshore oil and gas, the Scottish government will "support in principle" the Oil and Gas Technology Centre's plans to establish a new Net Zero Solution Centre, with the intention of enabling the North Sea to become the first 'net zero' hydrocarbon basin in the world. This centre will support the development and deployment of carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), hydrogen and renewables technologies that can be integrated with existing offshore oil and gas infrastructure.
CCUS has the potential to make a big impact on the Scottish government's emissions targets according to the programme, which also argues that Scotland has the potential to store "huge quantities" of carbon dioxide in the North Sea. The Scottish government intends to take forward a number of actions to support and promote CCUS, including support for the Acorn project at St Fergus and the emerging Scottish industry-led CCUS alliance.
The government believes that Scotland's existing oil and gas infrastructure makes Scotland the most cost-effective place to begin CCUS in the UK. It intends to explore proposals on CCUS with its partners, which will inform the Scottish public sector response to the UK consultation on CCUS business models. It is also committed to working with the Scottish National Investment Bank to explore how to support the full scale commercial deployment of CCUS in Scotland.
Offshore wind is expected to make a significant contribution to Scotland's energy and climate change ambitions, while supporting economic development and creating jobs. The Scottish government has committed to making Scotland an attractive place to invest in offshore wind energy, and will develop an Offshore Wind Policy Statement making clear its ambitions for the technology.
The government will produce offshore renewable energy decommissioning policy guidance by the end of this year and consult on its draft Sectoral Marine Plan in the autumn, with the aim of publishing a final version in 2020.
The Programme for Government makes a number of commitments on skills. The Scottish government plans to invest up to £2 million in innovation and skills to drive down costs and make sure Scotland has the necessary skills in place to take advantage of the opportunities offshore wind has to offer. This will include funds to launch a competition with the Carbon Trust inviting bids to address floating offshore wind technology challenges in order to help to de-risk technological solutions, support the Scottish supply chain and help to make floating offshore wind energy generation cost-effective.
Working with Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council, the Scottish government will publish a Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan. As part of this, it will set out a framework for maximising the opportunities for people to upskill and re-skill within the energy system, moving into areas such as oil and gas decommissioning, offshore wind energy and energy systems management.
The Scottish government has committed to steadily increasing annual investment so that its £5.2 billion investment this year will reach £6.7bn by the end of the next parliament. It intends to make low carbon the theme of the next Infrastructure Investment Plan following advice from the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland.
Standalone commitments in the Programme for Government include:
- forming a new strategic partnership with electricity network companies to improve electric vehicle charging infrastructure and electricity networks across Scotland;
- beginning engagement on the fourth National Planning Framework in autumn this year, with a view to publishing a draft National Planning Framework by summer next year;
- making £130m available this year to set up the Scottish National Investment Bank;
- establishing the Scotland 5G Centre, to lead on strategy and create a Scotland-wide approach to 5G Rural First;
- investing over £500m in improved bus priority infrastructure, to tackle the impacts of congestion on bus services and raise bus usage.
From 2024, all new homes built in Scotland will be required to use renewable or low carbon heat. This will be achieved through a fundamental overhaul in building regulations that will increase energy efficiency and the efficiency of construction from 2021, and will be accompanied by a £30m investment in renewable heat projects.
The government will publish a 'Housing to 2040' strategy document and route map in spring next year. In the meantime, it has committed to continuing its support of the growth of the Build to Rent sector in Scotland to boost the supply of good quality homes for private rent.