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Energy / Energy hub project hoping for funding clarity in coming months

THE TEAM behind plans for a Shetland ‘energy hub’ should know within the next few months if a funding bid to the Scottish Government has been successful.

Project lead for Shetland Islands Council Douglas Irvine said funding is also being sought from the UK Government.

The Orion Project – formerly titled Shetland Energy Hub – aims to secure a “clean, sustainable energy future for Shetland and the UK”. It is being led by the council and Aberdeen-based Oil and Gas Technology Centre.

Among its projected activities are using renewable electricity to power offshore oil and gas platforms as well as producing “industrial quantities” of hydrogen.

Other opportunities include the repurposing of infrastructure, production of green hydrogen and the redevelopment of parts of Sullom Voe Terminal.

There are hopes it could bridge the transition away from Shetland’s reliance on the oil and gas sector, while providing a sizeable employment boost too.

Speaking this week, Irvine said the project is applying for funding from the Scottish Government’s Energy Transition Fund for feasibility and concept studies.

Funding will be sought from the UK Government as part of the energy transition sector deal for upscaling and industrialisation if concept work is successful.

“We expect a decision on that application to the Scottish Government by the end of the year and we are working with a range of energy industry companies to achieve partnership arrangements,” he said.

“In the event of the funding approval being less than required the Orion Project will still proceed but within the existing project resources at a slower pace.”

Irvine also sought to clarify the carbon capture element of the project following comments made in the media by an expert in the field.

Stuart Haszeldine recently told the Press and Journal that he felt Shetland could be 20 to 30 years away from having a carbon capture and storage facility.

He is the director of research group Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage.

Carbon capture and storage is a way of capturing carbon dioxide from emissions produced by the use fossil fuels, reducing the environmental impact.

Haszeldine said larger carbon capture projects like Acorn at the St Fergus gas terminal in Aberdeenshire would be ahead of Shetland in the pecking order.

But Irvine said the Orion venture is “not primarily a carbon capture project, which need to be close to industrial zones”.

“The Orion project research relating to carbon capture is essentially about producing blue hydrogen from West of Shetland gas and then storing the carbon,” he said.

Irvine said the Orion team was keen to speak to Haszeldine to clarify the situation.

He reiterated that the carbon savings mentioned in the Orion Project are primarily from electrifying the oil fields to the west of Shetland.

Irvine also said storing carbon which has been imported in is not being considered in the project.