Energy minister visit explores Scotland’s opportunities for net zero and industrial decarbonisation

The transition away from fossil fuels has become a major global commitment at this year’s COP-28 in Dubai. This is ever more urgent for energy-intensive industry such as chemicals, cement and other high-emitting manufacturing sectors, which are still highly dependent on fossil fuels. However, decarbonising these industrial sectors, which in Scotland are responsible for up to 15% of greenhouse gas emissions, is not just a challenge but also a critical opportunity for creating green jobs, building sustainable supply chains and attracting inward investment.

In a visit this week, Scottish Minister for Energy and the Environment, Gillian Martin MSP met with the team at the Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC) to discuss how research and industry collaborations are developing innovative solutions for tackling industrial emissions.

Backed by £20m from the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge Fund and hosted by Heriot-Watt University, IDRIC brings together researchers from more than 35 UK universities with more than 200 partners and stakeholders to develop practical solutions for industrial decarbonisation. Collaborations across more than 100 research projects support the development of low-carbon technologies, infrastructure and skills needed to scale up industrial decarbonisation. In a visit to the labs of the Research Centre for Carbon Solutions (RCCS), Ms Martin was able to see first-hand how world leading research on sustainable fuels, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage, is leading the way to a low carbon industrial future.

Working closely with policymakers, industry and local communities across the UK, IDRIC also addresses the social, economic and environmental challenges involved and supports the development of effective and evidence-based policy to support this transition. Research and evidence produced by IDRIC is informing policy development on industrial decarbonisation within Scottish Government. The visit by Ms Martin provided an opportunity to discuss cross-cutting policy priorities to accelerate the transition in Scotland, including the concerted efforts needed to tackle the skills challenge and to effectively engage with local communities and the wider public on the benefits of industrial decarbonisation.

Energy-intensive industry is a core part of Scotland’s manufacturing base and provides important high-paid jobs. The minister’s visit provided an opportunity to discuss how IDRIC’s extensive knowledge base and collaborations are supporting the Scottish Government’s ambitious strategy for net zero and green growth. In its draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan, the Scottish Government sets out its ambition to decrease industrial emissions by 43% (from 2018 levels) by 2032, including from sites such as Grangemouth, and kickstart the production of low carbon hydrogen and carbon capture and storage to tackle residual emissions.

Gillian Martin MSP, Minister for Energy and the Environment said: “The Scottish Government is committed to helping ensure a just transition to net zero by 2045 and this requires Scotland’s industrial sector to play its part.

“Delivering industrial decarbonisation must be a collective endeavour between government, industry and academia, and I was pleased to meet with the team at IDRIC to build on our ongoing engagement, with discussions focussed on how we can use the Centre’s insight into decarbonisation to help solve the challenges faced by Scotland’s industries, and communities, as we transition towards net-zero. It was a pleasure to be shown some of their ground-breaking energy innovation projects up close”

Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer, Champion and Director IDRIC said: “IDRIC is committed to supporting Scotland on its decarbonisation journey. By pooling together leading expertise from academia, industry and government, we can ensure a just and timely transition for Scotland’s industrial heartlands and capture economic opportunities across supply chains. We look forward to continue working with the Scottish Government to reach its ambition for net zero”

Notes to the editor

The Scottish Government’s draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan contains a route map of actions to deliver a flourishing net zero energy system that supplies affordable, resilient and clean energy to Scotland’s workers, households, communities and businesses. The Scottish Government is currently welcoming views: Draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan consultation – Scottish Government – Citizen Space

IDRIC was launched in 2021 as part of the UKRI Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge (IDC) to accelerate research and innovation into industrial decarbonisation and support efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of major industrial clusters in Scotland, Northwest England, Teesside, Solent, Black Country, Humber, and South Wales. Hosted by Heriot-Watt University, IDRIC collaborates with over 200 partners and stakeholders including academic institutions, industry, community representatives and policy makers across the UK to address urgent innovation needs – realising goals with impact and integrating knowledge across disciplines and sectors.

Contact: IDRIC Policy Team, policy@idric.org.