The offshore energy sector could underpin 60 per cent of the emissions reductions needed to hit the UK’s 2050 net zero target, a government-backed report has suggested.
The combination of carbon capture and storage, or CCS, hydrogen fuel and the electrification of offshore oil and gas platforms together could deliver 30 per cent of the necessary emissions reductions, accoerding to the Oil and Gas Authority.
A further 30 per cent of the emissions savings could be made using power generated by offshore renewable energy sources such as wave, wind and tidal installations, it says.
The authority was set up in 2015 to regulate, influence and promote the British oil and gas industry. It is funded by an industry levy and is owned by the business department.
Its original mission was to maximise the recovery of oil and gas from the North Sea as old fields decline. Reflecting the growing impetus to act on climate change, it is now carrying out increasing work on decarbonisation.
The report looks at the potential for “offshore energy integration”, to co-ordinate different offshore energy systems, including oil and gas, renewables, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage. “Energy integration can help reduce production emissions, as well as accelerate the progress of CCS and hydrogen,” it says.
Carbon capture and storage technology would trap carbon emissions generated by burning fossil fuels in power plants and industry, then transporting them for disposal offshore, either in saline aquifers or in disused oil and gasfields. It could enable the use of the North Sea’s remaining fossil fuels while minimising their emissions.
The authority says that there is enough storage capacity in British offshore reservoirs to meet “hundreds of years of UK CCS needs”.
North Sea gas also could be used to make hydrogen, with the waste product of carbon dioxide disposed of offshore though carbon capture and storage.
In 2018, offshore oil and gas platforms consumed power equivalent to all the households in Wales, generated through burning gas or diesel.