The Scottish Liberal Democrats have demanded massive investment in carbon capture technology in the north-east as part of a national plan for a green recovery.
It comes just days after a £62 million package was unveiled by the First Minister to support oil and gas firms in diversifying towards net zero by 2045 and help attract private sector investment.
However, the Scottish Liberal Democrats are calling for at least £1 billion of investment in carbon capture technology from both the UK and Scottish governments.
St Fergus power station, near Peterhead, was previously earmarked to be transformed into a world-leading energy scheme, which was projected to create thousands of jobs in the north-east.
However, the UK Government announced it was axing the £1 billion grant it had been offering to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
Scottish Liberal Democrat energy spokesman Liam McArthur and Orkney MSP said the Conservative government “axed the project as soon as they could”.
He added: “Firing up carbon capture and storage in the north-east would provide thousands of jobs and make a significant contribution towards meeting Scotland’s climate change commitments.
“In November 2021 the eyes of the world will be on Glasgow for the COP26 summit.
“We should be looking to lead the world by putting forward plans for a green recovery.
“Scotland has the opportunity to be at the forefront of a new global industry.
“We have experienced engineers, a problem that needs solving and a ticking clock.
“The Scottish and UK Governments need to end years of hee-hawing and make carbon capture a reality.”
Scotland has the opportunity to be at the forefront of a new global industry.
Liam McArthur, Scottish Liberal Democrat energy spokesman.
The Energy Transition Fund, focused on the north-east of Scotland, will provide cash over the next five years to help the industry deal with the “dual economic impacts” of the pandemic and oil price crash.
Major projects will be “considered” for funding, including the Acorn carbon capture and storage project at St Fergus.
A total of 30,000 jobs are predicted to be cut from the industry by October next year as a result of the virus wiping out demand for fuel.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman confirmed the £62m package of support unveiled on Friday includes a “commitment” to carbon capture.
She added: “Major projects to be considered for funding include a Global Underwater Hub, Net Zero Solution Centre projects, a Hydrogen Hub, the ACORN project and an Energy Transition Zone.
“It is vital we move quickly to seize the opportunity to take forward a green, low-carbon recovery and support the workforce as the energy sector diversifies.
“Now is an opportune time to re-imagine the Scotland around us and to begin building a greener, fairer and more equal society and economy focused on wellbeing.”
A spokesman for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said they have provided a “far-reaching” package of support to help businesses through the coronavirus pandemic, including £330bn in loans and grant, offering to pay 80% of the wages of furloughed workers, and nearly £3.7bn to the Scotland administration to deal with Covid-19.
He added: “We continue to work closely with the Scottish Government and the oil and gas sector in Scotland on helping the industry going forward, including a bespoke sector deal from the UK Government, that will help deliver a green transition for the industry.”