Report: ‘niche market’ required to develop marine renewables in Scotland

A new report published has called on industry and government to work together to develop opportunities for the use of marine renewables in the oil and gas sector.

The call is backed by a coalition of organisations and individuals who attended a conference held at the University of Aberdeen last year, to discuss how marine renewable technologies could help power offshore oil and gas activities.

The University launched its own Centre for Energy Transition in September, to provide a focus for all areas of energy-related research with an emphasis on supporting industry in the transition to clean energy and renewables.

Today’s report, which reflects on the conference discussions, advocates the creation of a ‘niche’ market where marine renewables including wave power, tidal stream power and floating offshore wind turbines can provide power to offshore operations.

The emergence of such a market would act as a springboard for the development of marine renewables as part of the energy transition, while reducing the industry’s carbon footprint.

This approach has been used successfully in places like Denmark, where the development of wind and solar power was accelerated through, for example, the need to supply power to farming cooperatives.

Last year’s conference brought together senior academics in energy policy and economics with leading industry figures. It included representatives and speakers from organisations and companies including the Oil and Gas Technology Centre, Opportunity North East, and Columbus Energy Partners.

Presentations focused on existing plans for the application and development of marine renewables by operators, as well as current schemes. Among those who participated in a panel discussion was leading energy economist Alex Kemp, whose recent report on future prospects for the North Sea made clear the challenges facing the industry.

Dr David Toke, a Reader in Energy Policy at the University, took the lead in organising the event which has resulted in the publication of today’s report.

He said: “With oil prices at their rock-bottom now is the time for the oil and gas industry to invest in new technologies that help pave way for energy transition to renewable energy.

“There are some great opportunities for innovation in wave power being used to supply power to offshore oil and gas operations, as well as the steps forward that are being taken with offshore wind. That’s what this report is all about, and why people should read it.”