SHETLAND is home to four of Scotland’s top 30 polluters, with the new gas plant the isles’ main offender when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions.
The plant near Sullom Voe, operated by Total, emitted 235,234 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2016 to rank it at number 15 on a list of the country’s top 20 polluters.
A spokesman for the company said the figures needed to be seen in perspective as Shetland Gas Plant plays a major part in the national supply of gas, a low carbon fuel.
The gas plant was closely followed in the list by the Engie power station at Sullom Voe Terminal, which emitted 211,741 tonnes in 2016.
The terminal itself blew around 100 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, while SSE’s power station in Lerwick added a further 80 tonnes that year.
Emission data for 2017 is still being worked through.
“The Shetland Gas Plant is a modern facility that minimises its environmental footprint,” the Total spokesman said.
“The gas plant has modern low pressure gas recompression facilities that allow us to capture emissions and operate with zero routine flaring, as well as extensive waste heat recovery systems to reduce internal energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
“There are also state of the art gas turbines that reduce the level of nitrogen oxide emissions.
“The combination of these features means the Shetland Gas Plant treads very lightly considering the size of contribution it makes to the UK’s gas requirements.”
The figures, from environmental body SEPA, were highlighted this week as a report from scientists called for Scotland’s oil and gas industry to be shut down in an “urgent” and “phased” way to combat pollution and climate change.
The report, commissioned by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and Friends of the Earth Scotland, was written by staff from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester and Uppsala University in Sweden.
They suggest the oil and gas industry should be tackled if the UK Government wants to meet a target to cut climate pollution to “net zero” by 2050.
It is thought, however, that the UK’s oil and gas industry may have come to a natural halt by then anyway.
Scotland’s top polluter in 2016 was the Petroineos refinery in Grangemouth (1.65 million tonnes), while other top offenders included an ethylene plant in Mossmorran, the SSE power station in Peterhead and a tarmac cement plant in Dunbar.
SEPA’s figures showed that 12 of the top 20 carbon polluters are linked to the North Sea oil and gas industry.
One of the report’s authors Dr Jaise Kuriakose, from the University of Manchester, also called for the “complete decarbonisation of road transport, increased energy efficiency from buildings and decarbonised heating in the next two decades”.