A PROJECT which could deliver a “clean, sustainable energy future for Shetland and the UK” is progressing – with Shetland Islands Council leader Steven Coutts describing its opportunities as “massive”.
The Shetland Energy Hub will focus on renewable electricity powering offshore oil and gas platforms from shore and producing “industrial quantities” of hydrogen.
It is hoped that the project, which would oversee the shift from traditional oil and gas activities, could create a number of jobs.
Community-scale schemes are encouraged “as well as industrial-scale ventures”, with a desire to see Shetland’s community energy requirements integrated into the project.
Shetland Islands Council, which is now working with the Oil and Gas Technology Centre on the project, said the hub could make West of Shetland oil and gas assets “net zero by 2030 and provide five per cent of the UK’s low carbon energy demand by 2050”.
With discussions taking place with a range of potential stakeholders, the next stage is a period of project planning, early stage concept engineering, research and studies.
This feasibility stage will run for two to three years before any investment decisions are taken.
The proposed 600MW interconnector between Shetland and the Scottish mainland is described as “important” for the project, but it is “only a part of a much wider integrated renewable energy solution for Shetland and for the region”.
Last week SSE confirmed it would fund the proposed 103-turbine Viking Energy wind farm, which needed the go-ahead for the interconnector to get the green light from regulator Ofgem.
The Energy Hub concept presents a “significant opportunity for energy transition based on the utilisation of renewable electricity generation, alternative fuels coupled with Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) to provide clean energy for industrial complexes and domestic use”, the council said.
The development of these energy hubs are said to be critical if the UK is to maximise the level of sovereign energy generation whilst moving towards net zero.
There is also potential for Shetland in the future to contribute to the UK’s energy needs through blue hydrogen created from natural gas.
Blue hydrogen is predicted to meet 30 per cent of the UK’s energy needs by 2050, with Shetland potentially contributing between eight and 12 per cent of requirements.
Green hydrogen, generated from water, could also provide local energy and fuel sources for transportation in Shetland and could be generated offshore by repurposing oil and gas infrastructure.
Council leader Coutts said: “This is exactly the boost that our economy needs at this time. I am delighted that the project has moved so fast since the council set it up earlier in the year as the opportunities are massive and the engagement is very strong.
“It is particularly important for our young folk and the wider community as we look to develop our workforce into the future.”
Maggie Sandison, chief executive of Shetland Islands Council, said: “The hub’s aim is to provide local communities and industry access to clean energy, reduce emissions and maximise the value of the region’s oil and gas sector during energy transition.
“This project will create sustainable local and regional employment, which is of paramount importance in these difficult times.”
Project lead for Shetland Islands Council Douglas Irvine added: “An essential part of our ambition is to ensure that the Shetland community’s energy requirements are integrated into the project, and community-scale schemes are encouraged as well as industrial-scale ventures.
“The interconnector between Shetland and the Scottish mainland is important for the project, but only a part of a much wider integrated renewable energy solution for Shetland and for the region.”
Colette Cohen, chief executive of the Oil and Gas Technology Centre, said: “Energy Hubs are an exciting concept, which have the potential to accelerate the transition of our industry to a net zero future, while also supporting the UK’s net zero ambitions.
“Our objective at OGTC is to reduce the cost of developing and deploying technology to enable and accelerate the energy transition.
“The energy hub concept is a priority, working in partnership with industry, the regulators and research organisations, it will accelerate the development of key technology to create an integrated energy future for Scotland and enable the region to transition to a Hydrogen economy.”
The Shetland Islands Council team also includes Gunther Newcombe, who has over 40 years of experience in the oil and gas sector. He recently retired from the Oil & Gas Authority as its operations director .
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