Petrochemical multinational Ineos, which operates oil, chemical and power plants at Grangemouth in central Scotland, has laid out plans to switch to production and use of hydrogen power by all businesses and utilise carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
The five Ineos plants produce around three million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, down 37 per cent from five million tonnes when it took over the Grangemouth site in 2005.
The company says the latest moves will reduce output of carbon dioxide by at least one million tonnes a year by 2030, helping towards its ambition to achieve neutral climate emissions in the next two decades.
Andrew Gardner, chairman of Ineos Grangemouth, said the firm’s carbon-cutting strategy had a single goal – “to safely and efficiently reduce carbon dioxide emissions to zero by 2045”.
He says the emissions targets are “really ambitious, but achievable” and represent the “next step” in the evolution towards a low-carbon economy.
“Climate change is one of the most urgent environmental, economic and social issues of our time,” he said.
“We’ve set an ambitious plan to achieve net zero by 2045 and today we are announcing the next stage of our road map, which includes an investment in excess of £1bn.
“Our roadmap builds on the significant reductions we’ve already made at Grangemouth.”
He added: “Our next step, to use hydrogen combined with carbon capture via Project Acorn, will reduce this to below two million.”
A third phase of the roadmap, detailing the route to neutral emissions, will be developed as technology advances.
Ineos operates Scotland’s only crude oil refinery, as well as producing polymers used as the building blocks for products across a variety of sectors, including pharmaceuticals, agriculture, construction and transport.
Scottish net zero secretary Michael Matheson has welcomed the plans.
“This will not only drive forward innovation and diversification to tackle emissions at Grangemouth, but will also support the decarbonisation of other sectors, sites and regions across Scotland,” he said.
“This new investment holds great potential for the future of Grangemouth, as well as the vital jobs that are located there, as part of our just transition to net zero.”
Ineos has signed a deal to work with the Acorn CCS Project in developing Scotland’s first carbon capture and storage system by 2027.
But environmentalists have accused the firm of greenwashing, arguing ‘blue’ hydrogen, which relies on CCS technology to remove emissions, allows continued extraction of oil and gas.
Alex Lee, climate campaigner with Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Hydrogen technology enthusiasts fail to mention that it is wildly expensive, inefficient and is not zero-carbon.
“Ineos’s focus on fossil hydrogen and carbon capture and storage is just another distraction tactic, stopping us from the urgent need to end fossil fuel production and rapidly scale up renewable energy and invest in truly green jobs.
“Fossil hydrogen should not be developed or relied upon to cut emissions due to its dangerous reliance on both fossil fuels and CCS technology, which is unproven at scale and has continuously failed to live up to its promises as a silver bullet climate solution.”