SNP activists are attempting to force the party to rethink the reliance on carbon capture without a “full-scale independent study” into whether the technology actually works.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been earmarked to play a key role in the Scottish Government’s net zero strategy and SNP ministers have repeatedly used the issue to attack the UK Government over funding.

Party activists are tabling a motion at the SNP conference next weekend in Aberdeen, where a Scottish carbon capture cluster project hopes to be based.

Carbon capture and storage allows fossil fuels to be burnt but the carbon emissions are trapped and stored in the ground.

But concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of the technology and whether it should be relied upon.

The Herald: Carbon capture and storageCarbon capture and storage (Image: PA)

Last year, the Herald revealed research by the Tyndall Institute that showed that “significant deployment” of the technology for power, heat and transport systems is “now not expected until 2030”.

The climate experts also pointed to a “lack of incentives, policies and regulation for CCS implementation compared to what is expected to be delivered by CCS infrastructure”.

SNP ministers have used a carbon capture funding row to criticise the UK Government after Tory ministers failed to hand the Scottish project priority status.

The motion starkly states that “conference has grave concerns about the efficacy and cost” of carbon capture and storage, warning it is “a technology which has still not been proven at scale”.

The UK and Scottish governments’s independent advisors, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), has warned that the lack of immediate funding for the Scottish project has put the legal target to cut 1990 levels of emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 at risk of failure – due to the reliance on the technology in the strategy drawn up by SNP ministers.

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The activists have warned that the technology “may be too expensive and by the time it is operational, it might be too late”.

The motion adds that “conference proposes that it should be party policy that CCS should only be considered” as part of plans to sequester carbon “after a full-scale, independent study has been undertaken into the efficacy, value for money, environmental and climate impact” of the technology.

It stresses that research “considers the transition to renewables and other carbon sequestering” such as mass tree-planting and peatland restoration.

Environmental campaigners have called on SNP ministers to stop “clinging onto the empty and dangerous promises” of the technology.

Alex Lee, climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "Carbon capture and storage has time and again failed to materialise at the scale that has been touted by industry and its backers in government.

“SNP activists have rightly taken notice of the ever growing body of evidence that shows that CCS is expensive, inefficient and fails to reduce carbon emissions.

"Even the Scottish Government are beginning to see the flaws in relying on this fantasy technology after admitting that carbon capture and hydrogen technologies cannot deliver at the pace they assumed in its climate change plan which leaves a huge and worrying hole in its efforts to meet climate commitments.

"It’s time the Scottish Government stopped clinging onto the empty and dangerous promises of CCS and instead focus its resources on climate solutions that we know work today and can be scaled up in areas like renewables, electrification and energy efficiency.”

Scottish Conservative net zero and energy spokesperson, Liam Kerr said: “Both of Scotland’s governments acknowledge that CCS will be a key technology in supporting their aims to achieve their net zero targets.

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“But this motion is further evidence that the ill-informed, reactionary influence of the Greens in this coalition of chaos is seeping through.”

He added: “Since going into power-sharing, the SNP have already considered a whisky tax which would wreck the industry and wound back from years of promises to improve safety on the A9 and A96.

“Frankly, despite Scotland being ideally positioned to lead the global development and deployment of CCS, it’s embarrassing that the SNP will even entertain this motion at their conference.”

The Scottish Greens, who entered into a co-operation agreement with the SNP at Holyrood last year, have been sceptical about the reliance on carbon capture technology.

Mark Ruskell, Greens energy and environment spokesperson, said:“There may be a limited role for carbon capture and storage in the future, especially for industrial sectors like cement manufacturing where there are few options to decarbonise.

“However, governments have been warned by the UK Committee on Climate Change, and others, about relying on the technology to meet climate targets. So far carbon capture and storage has always overpromised and underperformed and ended up locking in dependency on fossil fuels."

"We don't have time to wait. CCS should not divert our attention from the urgent and real need to invest in cost effective renewable energy solutions.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government’s position is clear that carbon capture utilisation and storage will be a vital part of our energy transition that can drastically reduce emissions from electricity generation whilst ensuring flexible security of supply and also enabling negative emissions technologies.

"The advice from the Climate Change Committee describes CCS as a "necessity, not an option" to achieve net zero emissions and that Scotland could achieve net zero by 2045, ahead of the rest of the UK, in part due to 'the excellent opportunities to remove CO2 from the atmosphere through carbon capture and storage in Scotland'.

“The UK Government’s decision not to award the Scottish cluster carbon capture project clear and definitive track-1 status is a serious mistake which shows a clear lack of ambition and leadership on climate change.

"The Scottish Government has offered £80 million to help accelerate the cluster and remains committed to supporting the continued growth and development of CCS to ensure Scotland reaches its net zero goals by 2045.”

The SNP has been contacted for comment.