The UK’s Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has started work to identify the value the establishment of an energy hub on the Norfolk coast could lead to by hiring specialist project development company Progressive Energy to conduct an in-depth feasibility study.
A preliminary assessment of Bacton has already been conducted by the OGA, identifying it as a key priority area plan. It presents an opportunity to be developed as an energy hub, supporting both the industry’s drive to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and maximising economic recovery from the UK Continental Shelf.
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. The study is intended to deepen understanding of whether it is a suitable location for using existing gas reserves as a transition fuel to produce blue hydrogen as an initiator for progression to green hydrogen generation.
Progressive Energy has now started its analysis which will examine several existing ideas within the oil and gas and renewables sectors, to assess whether an energy hub at Bacton is viable and set out options that might be explored further by any potential industry consortium.
The analysis 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 hydrocarbons will still be required for conventional uses during the transition, and consequently available for blue hydrogen.
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, says, “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,” continues Macfarlane.
David Parkin, Project Director for Progressive Energy, adds, “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.”