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North Sea infrastructure could get fresh lease on life with hydrogen production

© Allseashydrogen north sea
Infrastructure in the Shell Brent field and Spirit Energy's Markham field are "ideal" for hydrogen production.

A new report has examined how ageing North Sea infrastructure could be repurposed for wind-powered hydrogen production.

The study from the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council (SOWEC) looked at floating storage and fixed installations, as well as pipelines for “export or storage of hydrogen product, disposal of CO2 and the import of natural gas feedstock for Steam Methane Reforming (SMR) operations” in the central and northern North Sea.

While the aim was not to single out specific assets, infrastructure related to the Shell Brent field and the Spirit Energy Markham field was named as “ideal donor sites for consideration, as these sites are located in close proximity to connecting pipelines and Offshore Wind Farm (OWF) developments”.

It added that a repurposed bulk carrier would be “ideally suited to provide a platform to host hydrogen production equipment from constrained offshore renewable resources found to the north of the Scottish mainland”.

The study, conducted by consultancy Vysus Group, comes after Crown Estate Scotland revealed recently that it is assessing a ScotWind style leasing round to help decarbonise the oil and gas sector through methods such as electrification.

It did, however, list a number of issues including uncertainties around the condition of pipelines, potential conflict with decommissioning plans and differences in the chemical properties between hydrogen and natural gas and therefore potential issues with the suitability of existing equipment.

SOWEC cho-chair Brian McFarlane said: “Offshore wind is at the heart of a successful energy transition. Scotland has a world-class supply chain working in oil and gas and maritime engineering.

“This report highlights the readiness of Scottish companies to shift into hydrogen, and also sets out a route map on the political, economic, regulatory, and technological steps needed to enable the transition.”

Hydrogen production has been integrated into a number of bids for several firms in the upcoming ScotWind leasing awards.

The UK Government published its hydrogen strategy in August, highlighting the potential for an industry worth £900m with 9,000 jobs in the coming years, with the potential for those figures to rise to £13bn and 100,000 jobs by 2050.

The Scottish Government set out its hydrogen assessment in December, with three scenarios ranging from 70,000 – 300,000 jobs by 2045, depending on costs and entry to the market.

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