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Achieving net zero – reasons for optimism

08 February 2021

I joined OGTC 11 months ago, taking up the post of Chief Technologist just as the global pandemic took hold, shutting down economies, restricting international travel and tragically, taking lives. 

Over the course of almost a year, we have all watched, expectantly, as the academic scientific community pulled together with industry to tackle the pandemic emergency.  The work done by the global scientific community to understand Covid 19 and find effective remedial treatments and ultimately, a vaccine, has left a deep impression and strengthened my view that academia and industry can and must collaborate at pace to solve major problems.  It has been inspiring to see such swift progress and world class collaboration to develop and manufacture vaccines.

It has been impressive performance by our colleagues in the Pharma sector, an object lesson in ‘mission focused innovation’ and example for all of us in the energy sector.  Absorbing that lesson gives me optimism that we can and must achieve similar levels of collaboration to develop technologies to enable us to achieve net zero by 2045 in Scotland.  We can collaborate effectively, the prospect for brand new ways of working, new technologies being developed and high value businesses emerging to enable a net zero energy system are truly exciting.

Back to my role at OGTC as Chief Technologist, I have been spurred on to achieve my objective to enhance collaboration between industry and academia.  I will do that by managing our Net Zero R&D projects, fostering important academic/industry R&D that will move the needle to get us to net zero emissions by 2045. 

I have reasons for optimism that we can achieve our net zero goals.  In Scotland we are blessed with world class research universities.  We have some of the best minds in computer science, engineering and science working on cutting edge research.  We also have a track record of supporting the commercialisation of ideas emerging from universities. Scotland has notably high rates of spin-out company formation from our universities.   Combine that with the concentration of world class businesses that have grown expertise and excellence in the oil and gas industry and a renewable sector that is about to go through a dramatic period of growth.  Plus, investment is now lining up to back innovative solutions and technologies.

It leaves me optimistic that we have the people, skills, and natural resources to achieve net zero.

So, the conditions are right to enable net zero technology R&D in Scotland, and at OGTC we will invest in collaborative R&D projects between academia and industry to make it happen.

I am excited to have joined OGTC, even as the world was stopped in its tracks by the pandemic.  Now we all know real change is possible.  The team at OGTC will invest in R&D projects to enable our net zero targets to be achieved. I am excited to be part of that effort.

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