Offshore energy integration can deliver 30% of UK’s net zero target, report finds

Aug. 7, 2020
The integration of offshore energy systems could deliver about 30% of the UK’s total carbon reduction requirements needed to meet the 2050 net zero target, according to the Oil and Gas Authority.

Offshore staff

LONDON – The integration of offshore energy systems, including oil and gas, renewables, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage, could deliver about 30% of the UK’s total carbon reduction requirements needed to meet the 2050 net zero target, according to the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA).

The OGA’s UKCS Energy Integration Project report, published in collaboration with Ofgem, The Crown Estate, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, also highlights the additional potential for offshore renewables (wind, wave and tidal) to contribute a further 30% toward the UK’s net zero target. This means the UK continental shelf (UKCS) could support, in combination with complementary investments in onshore energy infrastructure, around 60% of the UK’s decarbonization requirements.

There are more than 30 energy integration projects under way across the UKCS, with more than 10 actively being engaged by the OGA alongside this study.

In addition, the report concludes that not only is the close coordination of these technologies valuable in terms of energy production and cutting greenhouse gases, but also that their integration would help technologies become economically more attractive.

The findings of the report include:

Oil and gas platform electrification is essential to cutting sector production emissions in the near term, and critical to the industry’s social license to operate. Electrification can abate operational emissions by 2-3 Mt CO2 p.a. by 2030. This is the equivalent of reducing 20% of today’s production emissions, rising to 40% by 2030.

Oil and gas capabilities, infrastructure and supply chain are crucial to energy integration, and can potentially support further offshore renewables expansion, including floating wind power.

Re-using oil and gas reservoirs and infrastructure can accelerate carbon capture and storage (CCS), connecting to onshore net zero hubs and saving 20-30% capex on specific projects.

To reach the CCS scale in support of net zero, the UK needs to develop around 20 individual CO2 stores for a total capacity of more than 3 Gt CO2 by 2050 (with large CCS projects featuring multiple stores).

Blue hydrogen (produced from natural gas) has the potential to decarbonize around 30% of the UK natural gas supply by 2050, potentially supporting circa half of CCS expansions in the same timeframe.

Green hydrogen (from renewables) can support and enable the significant expansion of offshore renewables in the 2030s and beyond, providing an efficient storage and energy transportation solution. Reducing the costs of the technology involved (electrolysis) would be needed to support the faster uptake of this technology.

OGA Chief Executive Dr Andy Samuel said: “The UK continental shelf has the potential to make a deep and meaningful impact on the UK’s overall net zero target and offshore energy integration can be the game changer.

“By closely coordinating our energy systems a secure energy supply can continue to be delivered from a diverse mix of production, while unlocking more and more of the green energy and carbon capture needed to help take the UK to net zero.”

Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “The skills, expertise, and infrastructure of the oil and gas sector and its supply chain will be vital in unlocking the opportunities for the integration of offshore energy systems – a key step on Scotland’s own pathway to a greener and fairer economy and society.”