Crown Estate Scotland is tendering a £40,000 contract for a study into whether oil platforms can be reused to produce hydrogen.
The study will assess capacity to deliver a “strong pipeline of hydrogen projects from late 2020s to 2050”, according to Public Contracts Scotland.
Crown Estate Scotland tendered the oil-hydrogen study on behalf of the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council (SOWEC), a public-private partnership set up by the Scottish Government.
It will look at the costs of using oil infrastructure and other “key supply chain capabilities” like maintenance services, supply of electrolysers and upgrading of ports and quays.
The winner of the contract would also assess the costs and benefits of offshore production vs onshore, and look at where the main risks lie for potential developers.
The deal is expected to begin mid-December, ending March 2021.
Hydrogen has been touted as a key fuel for the energy transition, to be used in areas including transport and blended into the heat network once boilers are upgraded.
A consortium including the OGTC, Repsol Sinopec, EMEC and others are involved in a project aimed at converting North Sea oil rigs into hydrogen producers, with plans for a test facility at the Orkney Flotta oil terminal.
However the idea isn’t without its sceptics either.
Tom Baxter, visiting professor of chemical engineering at Strathclyde University, said “I’m afraid I just don’t get why offshore hydrogen makes sense”.
He added: “As a lecturer in Offshore Facilities one of my mantras is – don’t do anything offshore that you can do onshore. Offshore will be much more capital intensive, it will cost more to operate and it will be less safe.”
Neptune Energy announced its PosHYdon hydrogen project last year – a pilot scheme using a combination offshore wind, offshore gas and offshore hydrogen at the Q13-a platform in the Dutch North Sea