An in-depth feasibility study to identify the value of creating an energy hub on the Norfolk coast has been launched.
Industry regulator the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has hired specialist project development company Progressive Energy to carry out the research at Bacton.
It’s intended to deepen understanding of whether it is a suitable location for using existing gas reserves as a transition fuel to produce blue hydrogen, with the aim of moving on to green hydrogen.
A preliminary assessment of Bacton, which was carried out by the OGA, has already identified it as a “key priority area plan” which presents an opportunity to be developed as an energy hub.
It’s though it has the potential to support the drive to net zero, as well as to help maximise economic recovery in the North Sea.
Bacton is already home to a complex of five gas terminals and is in a large wind power growth area, as well having the potential to produce hydrocarbons into the 2040s.
Progressive Energy has started its analysis which will examine several existing ideas within the oil and gas and renewables sectors, to assess whether an energy hub is viable and set out options that might be explored further by any potential industry consortium.
The study will look at potential hydrogen supply and demand in the area; the integration opportunities for hydrogen and hydrocarbons; and the role hydrogen can plan in smoothing out the energy demand peaks and troughs associated with current and future wind farms in and around Bacton.
In addition, it will review the technology required for blue and green hydrogen production, and quantify how much oil and gas will be required for conventional uses during the transition.
Once Progressive Energy has completed its report, the OGA will decide on how to proceed with the next stage of the project which would draw together different energy sectors to devise an energy plan for the region.
Alistair Macfarlane, OGA Southern North Sea (SNS) area manager, said: “This is an exciting project that could bring real benefits in terms of the twin goals of maximising economic recovery and supporting the drive to net zero.
“The OGA-led project will hopefully stimulate energy transition activity at a hub considered to be a leading potential site and, at the same time, bring together organisations interested in creating an exciting future for Bacton.
“An energy hub located at Bacton would involve a number of sectors, each with their own aspirations. By clearly setting out a vision through the report, hopefully the value of collaboration across all the energy sectors will be compelling and lead to repurposing of existing infrastructure to support the UK’s energy transition.”
David Parkin, project director for Progressive Energy, added: “Progressive Energy is very pleased to be bringing our project origination and development expertise to this interesting and important programme.
“We are excited to be helping the Oil and Gas Authority to identify opportunities to decarbonise and drive the energy transition at, and around, Bacton and are keen to use our skills and experience from developing the HyNet carbon cluster in the North West to bring the huge benefits of a decarbonised energy hub develop to East Anglia.”