20 Jul The Future. A Net Zero North Sea. An Opportunity for Growth.
Net zero 2050 from UGUK/IMechE presentation 2/7/20
This short article is based on an excellent Institution of Mechanical Engineers webinar given recently by Martyn Tulloch of the Oil and Gas Technology Centre.
It outlines how the UK could make the transition to Net Zero C02 emissions within 30 years.
If you are interested in being part of the development of the next North Sea industry I recommend that you take time to watch the Martyn Tullochs Imech E webinar/presentation and understand the big picture of what could be the biggest infrastructure “project for a generation”.
Please see the following link for the webinar recording.
It covers an integrated approach comprising, Oil, Gas, Offshore Windpower, Hydrogen and Carbon Capture and Storage and is the most comprehensive proposal that I have seen to date.
The revenue of the oil and gas industry is forecast to decline from a current £24Bn/annum supporting 280,000 jobs in the supply chain to a forecast £11Bn/annum and significantly less jobs by 2050.
The Potential Future
With the inclusion of extensive offshore windpower, hydrogen generation, and carbon capture and storage this annual energy revenue for the UKCS could be increased to an estimated £49Bn in 2050 with the associated large number of jobs in engineering, manufacturing, construction, and operations.
What would this concept look like?
The UK has 40% of Europes offshore wind resource located, conveniently in many cases, closely to existing Oil and Gas infrastructure.
To meet the 2050 vision circa 23,000 9MW wind turbines totaling 212GW would be installed in the North Sea and 9,500 wind turbines totaling 85GW in the UK Atlantic waters.
North Sea Electrification
Green electricity from windpower would be used to power existing offshore oil and gas installations reducing use of open cycle gas turbines and their associated C02 which makes up 63% of UKCS emissions.
Green Hydrogen Generation
Surplus power from offshore windpower would be converted into green hydrogen via electrolysis and transported onshore via pipelines. Excess hydrogen could be stored until required in existing onshore and offshore salt caverns.
Blue hydrogen is obtained from the “Cracking” of natural gas which can be stored and distributed as required.
Carbon Capture and storage
The “waste” C02 from production of blue hydrogen and other industrial operations would then be reinjected into subsurface formations offshore.
Opportunity for the UK Oil and Gas Industry
The Covid pandemic and collapsing oil price has been a double blow for the UK Oil and Gas industry with many thousands of jobs still expected to be lost.
There are many thousand skilled engineering and other professionals across the oil industry and its supply chains eager to work given the appropriate opportunities and economic environment.
Each of the above main items would be £Billion programs in their own right and would provide many opportunities for transitioning Oil & Gas engineers to apply themselves to a new set of challenges.
The Energy Hub Concept
This concept integrates natural gas, offshore windpower, offshore oil and gas electrification, hydrogen production and carbon capture with hubs situated at strategic locations around the UK.
What has been outlined in Martyn Tullochs webinar presentation may not be the final solution, but it is a model which can be worked and refined.
If government and industry are to apply themselves to this new industrial opportunity as they did in the 70s and 80s I am sure that we can both achieve net zero and develop another world class industry that can be exported to other parts of the globe.
What it would need for this to happen?
Government support, probably in the form of a carbon tax and credits system plus direct investment.
Industry support in terms of developing and reducing the cost of the required technologies.
Engineering community support in terms of training and skills including engineering and project management.
General public support as these are the countries voters and need to be involved in the vision.
Why we need to do this?
With power demand rising and global C02 emissions driving average temperature increases we are likely heading towards significant areas of the world becoming arid and unsuitable for agriculture.
Martyn Tullochs view is that we are not moving fast enough and that both UK and globally more effort must be put into working towards integrated net zero.
Play your part
I recommend watch the IMechE webinar and explain to your non-technical friends and colleagues in layman’s terms this huge program of projects and how it can help in the drive to net zero, provide high value long term jobs and build a world class industry.