Over £5 million (rising to £10 million with industry matching funds) could be invested into developing CO2 utilisation technology as part of the new CO2 Utilisation Challenge Fund. The fund is available for two years starting April 2022 and will be administered by Scottish Enterprise. Funding is available to help businesses and organisations develop as well as commercialise technology that aims to harness and convert CO2.
The announcement comes after the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report on April 4 which highlighted carbon capture and storage (CCS) as an option for reducing emissions. The report stated, "The technical geological CO2 storage capacity is estimated to be on the order of 1000 gigatonnes of CO2, which is more than the CO2 storage requirements through 2100 to limit global warming to 1.5°C, although the regional availability of geological storage could be a limiting factor. If the geological storage site is appropriately selected and managed, it is estimated that the CO2 can be permanently isolated from the atmosphere". One of the identified barriers to progress is technological innovation.
Patents, which can be used as a proxy for innovation, were charted in the EPO's report on the energy transition released in April 2021. Patenting trends were analysed in various technologies including CCUS (carbon capture utilisation and storage). The report indicates the US has a technology advantage in CCUS with Europe being a leader in other low-carbon energy sectors such as wind power. However, among countries in the European economic area, the UK was calculated as having an above-average specialisation in CCUS.
The CO2 Utilisation Challenge Fund aims to harness this domestic knowledge and expertise, particularly in Scotland, to further develop and bring such environmentally important technologies in carbon utilisation to the market.