The UK Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) commissioned Progressive Energy to undertake a study in December 2020 to analyse the hydrogen demand potential in Bacton and the South East of England.
The Southern North Sea has been a critical part of the UK’s energy system for half a century and could continue to have a key role to play for decades to come; with Bacton playing an instrumental role. The study was commissioned to evaluate the demand for, and potential for, generation of hydrogen in the Bacton area; to develop a fuller understanding of the potential requirements for future hydrocarbon production and repurposing of infrastructure to enable this; and to develop a future vision for the Southern North Sea and Bacton.
The study has concluded that the Bacton area has the potential to demonstrate energy transition in action by becoming a significant hydrogen production site for London and the South East. A sustainable market for this hydrogen is expected to develop and it is anticipated that blue hydrogen will be the most commercially viable option in the 2030’s and early 2040’s. This will provide the time for the maturation of green hydrogen technology and for green hydrogen to become more cost competitive on an industrial scale by the late 2040’s and early 2050’s.
The Southern North Sea has sufficient indigenous hydrocarbon reserves to provide the feedstock required to meet the increasing blue hydrogen demand; creating value whilst helping to meet UK energy demands and supporting the UK’s transition to Net Zero. Blue hydrogen generation could utilise the existing hydrocarbon infrastructure and extensive CO2 storage potential the Southern North Sea has to offer, with green hydrogen being used to redeploy constrained wind energy. The Southern North Sea can therefore make a valuable contribution to decarbonising the UK energy mix.
However, action is required now to ensure the continued production and development of natural gas in the near term; this will be needed to protect existing infrastructure and to ensure feedstock availability for blue hydrogen. Failure to act now could see infrastructure prematurely decommissioned and hydrocarbon opportunities lost, which would have a credible impact on realising this value for the region.