Climate campaigners have warned Scottish Government Ministers that approving a huge new fossil gas power station at Peterhead would be a ‘climate disaster’ for decades to come. The message comes as the First Minister heads to Dubai for the UN climate conference COP28 which begins on Thursday (30/11/23).

The Scottish Government are considering an application from energy giants SSE and Equinor to build a new gas burning power station at Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, in addition to the existing gas plant.

The new power station will do nothing to address sky high energy bills being felt by families and risks trapping Scottish households and businesses into dependence on volatile fossil fuels for decades to come. Renewables and energy efficiency measures are far more affordable and beneficial to the wider community.

Scotland’s biggest polluter will get even worse

Climate campaigners also said that new fossil fuel infrastructure undermines the transition to renewable energy by creating long term demand for gas as well as diverting resources away much-needed green energy developments.

Official figures from SEPA show the existing plant in Peterhead has been the single worst polluter in Scotland for the past 5 years, belching out over 1.35million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2022.

SSE, who made £565million in profits in the past six months, were forced to admit in planning application documents that the two plants would run at the same time and could increase total climate emissions from the site. The developers claim that they will add carbon capture technology to the new station at a later date, but experience around the world has shown that this technology has never delivered at the levels its proponents claim.

Carbon capture is ‘attempted greenwash’

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s climate campaigner Alex Lee (they/them)

“If the Scottish Government approves new fossil fuelled power at Peterhead, it would be a climate disaster that further endangers people in Scotland through worsening climate breakdown and exposes household energy bills to the greed of the fossil fuel industry for another 25 years.

“From Brechin to Bangladesh, the deadly impacts of the climate crisis have arrived and the Scottish Government cannot add even more fuel to the fire by undermining the transition to renewables and allowing the building of new fossil fuel infrastructure.

“Fossil fuels are driving the cost-of-living crisis yet this Peterhead expansion plan would continue to trap people in paying energy prices set by the volatile global gas market. Renewable energy is more affordable, reliable and can deliver greater benefits across Scottish communities.

“The cynical push for carbon capture that will be seen at COP28 is little more than attempted greenwash from a fossil fuel industry whose business model only produces ever more extreme weather impacts and obscene profits for wealthy shareholders.

“The Scottish Government have the final say on if this toxic project goes ahead. It must reject the relentless lobbying of big polluters and instead invest in a fast and fair transition to renewable energy, with workers and communities’ needs at its heart. The climate emergency demands working climate solutions that will improve lives such as improved public transport, ensuring warm homes and renewable energy run in the public interest. “

Notes to Editors

The First Minister will travel to UAE for COP28. https://www.gov.scot/news/first-minister-to-participate-in-cop28/

Scottish Ministers have previously admitted that “renewable power could provide a more consistent and stable energy supply in the wake of rising prices and unpredictable supplies of oil and gas.” Scottish Parliament official record 8/3/22

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres has previously said that investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is “moral and economic madness.”

SSE proposals

SSE proposals to build a new gas burning power station in Peterhead https://foe.scot/peterhead-power-station-explained/

SSE do not expect the new plant to be operational until 2027 at least. SSE said they do not envisage the old plant operating into the 2030s but that these decisions would be affected by a range of factors including market signals.

This admission is made in the letter from SSE to SEPA pages 2/11 + 10/11.

This document can be found in the Planning Documents on the Scottish Governments Energy Consents Unit info portal


Description on the file:

Date received: 17 Feb 2023 ,
Date published: 20 Feb 2023 ,
Document category: Application Documents ,
Description: Peterhead Low Carbon CCGT Power Station proposal – ADDITIONAL INFORMATION – February 2023

Other SSE/ Peterhead power station information

The Ferret coverage of SEPA stats detailing biggest polluters in 2022

SSE half yearly profits announcement

Cost of gas vs renewables

At one point last year, gas was 9 times more expensive than onshore wind. The gas price has fallen slightly but onshore wind and solar are still far cheaper than gas for electricity generation:
August 2022 https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-record-low-price-for-uk-offshore-wind-is-four-times-cheaper-than-gas/
Sep 2023 https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-uk-renewables-still-cheaper-than-gas-despite-auction-setback-for-offshore-wind/

Carbon capture failures

A 2022 report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis looked at 13 carbon capture projects – over half of total global capacity – highlighting how many had failed and critically underperformed. They found the majority of carbon captured globally had actually been pumped underground to force out more fossil fuels in a practice known as ‘Enhanced Oil Recovery’.

Timeline of Carbon Capture failures in Scotland

Evidence showing renewables and energy efficiency better for jobs and communities

Our 2019 research showed that, given the right policies, clean industries could create more than three jobs for every North Sea oil job at risk, which can enable an “equivalent job guarantee” for every oil worker.

Energy crisis: MPs call for ‘war effort’ on insulation (Jan 2023)

Tackling cold homes would save the NHS in England £540mn per year, BRE research reveals (March 2023)

The Construction Leadership Council has published the second iteration of the National Retrofit Strategy, a twenty-year blueprint for how the construction industry can work with Government to retrofit the UK’s 28 million existing homes and unlock u to 100,000 jobs. (June 2021)

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.