Photo: The Cerulean Winds proposition

Winds of change

The following article is a guest post by Dan Jackson, founding director at Cerulean Winds, a green infrastructure developer.

Cerulean Winds has recently revealed a plan to accelerate the decarbonisation of oil and gas assets through an integrated 200-turbine floating wind and hydrogen development that would shift the dial on emissions targets and create significant jobs.

Dan Jackson, founding director, Cerulean Winds
Dan Jackson, founding director, Cerulean Winds

The winds of change are coming for energy transition – but are they moving as fast as they could be? While the UK and Scottish governments have set what is seen as the ambitious target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2035, we should be asking if that target is ambitious enough?

Possibly not.

We already have the technology to blow those targets out of the water. But do we have the vision and confidence to pick up the pace? As the world focuses attention on energy transition, we should be aspiring to not just meet all the targets that have been set but to exceed them.

Recent events have demonstrated that we can respond rapidly to crisis. Few would have believed a vaccine would be developed for COVID-19 in under a year, but with global cooperation and government commitment, it happened.

The biggest crisis now facing us is the environmental one, and the need to bring about change before it is too late. Energy transition must be a priority and regulatory bodies must be bold and ambitious in their commitment to advance that priority.

In the UK that doesn’t mean suddenly switching off the lights on our oil & gas sector. The sector will be a vital part of our energy mix and a crucial component of our energy security for many years to come. But we can and must make it greener. Offshore assets in the UKCS produce 18 million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year and we should treat with urgency the fast tracking of the decarbonisation agenda.

If assets don’t reduce their CO2 emissions by the mid-2020s, the financial impact will be crippling. Increased emissions penalties through carbon taxes will see many North Sea fields become uneconomical, moving towards decommissioning by the end of the decade at the cost of thousands of jobs and the demise of the industry decades before the end of its natural life.

A new report from the European Technology and Innovation Platform on Wind (ETIPWind) and WindEurope has said that electrification is the most cost-effective way to decarbonise Europe’s economy.

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If it gets the go ahead, a scheme proposed by Cerulean Winds for an integrated 200-turbine floating wind and hydrogen development will do just that in the North Sea, generating enough power to electrify the majority of UKCS assets as well as future production potential from 2024. That would see emissions across the UKCS cut by more than half – in a timescale well ahead of other proposals in the pipeline.

But to achieve this, decisions must be made now. We have submitted a formal request to Marine Scotland for seabed leases for our sites West of Shetland in the Central North Sea. Everything hinges on those being granted by Q3 in 2021 so we can target financial close in Q1 2022 and begin construction soon after.

We are asking Marine Scotland to make an exceptional case to deliver an extraordinary outcome for the economy and environment. A big ask perhaps, but an even bigger prize.

The article above is a guest post by Dan Jackson, founding director at Cerulean Winds, and does not reflect the editorial views of Offshore Energy.