With Right Investments, UK can Lead World to Net-Zero Goals: Report

Wood Mackenzie has delivered a comprehensive roadmap for the North Sea’s future to the OGTC, setting out the critical technologies needed to deliver an integrated net zero energy system on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).

Closing the Gap – Technology for a Net Zero North Sea produced by Wood Mackenzie for the OGTC, with support from Chrysaor and the Scottish government, outlines how accelerating the development of new energy technologies can dramatically reduce emissions. The report also shows how adopting new technologies will harness the full potential of the UK’s world-class natural resources from renewable power sources and oil and gas, to hydrogen and long-term carbon storage.

Maximising the opportunities to innovate across the renewable and fossil fuel sectors could create more than 200,000 new jobs across the UK and contribute more than GBP 2.5 trillion to the nation’s economy by 2050. It would also create a diversified energy sector, support a new generation of highly-skilled jobs and open up export potential.

Malcolm Forbes-Cable, vice president, upstream consulting at Wood Mackenzie, said “Just as the UK was a world-leader in the development of offshore oil and gas, it now has the unique opportunity to spearhead the offshore sector’s transition to a net zero energy system.”

Realising this integrated vision will require £430 billion (USD 554 billion) of new investment to close the gap on a number of crucial technologies and accelerate their deployment. These include:

  • Oil and gas platform electrification, methane leak detection and advanced subsea systems;
  • Larger blades, taller towers and automated inspection technology for fixed offshore wind;
  • Optimised and standardised floating offshore wind foundation designs;
  • Innovative hydrogen membranes and carbon dioxide sorbents to improve blue hydrogen yield;
  • New saltwater electrolysis technologies to reduce the cost of green hydrogen production;
  • New solvents, sorbents, membranes and conversion solutions to reduce the cost of carbon capture and storage;
  • Power off-take solutions and support systems for marine renewables.

Forbes-Cable said: “The North Sea is at the heart of the UK economy. This won’t change, but our energy eco-system will. This report underlines how the UKCS can be redeveloped into a decarbonised, integrated energy system; one that can optimise the offshore sector’s economic value and deliver a secure supply of affordable energy.

“Hydrogen, for example, can be used in place of gas to heat homes and power engines and industrial processes, while reducing our carbon footprint. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has set significant targets for a low-carbon hydrogen economy in the UK, but production remains close to non-existent. There are key technology challenges to overcome before hydrogen can be deployed on a vast scale.”

Colette Cohen OBE, CEO at OGTC said “with its decades of energy expertise, the UK has a huge opportunity to become a leading manufacturer, designer, installer and operator of net zero energy systems. Leveraging our strength in oil and gas, we can also partner with the renewables sector to accelerate the delivery of the next generation of energy in the UK – and internationally.

“This is where governments and industry should focus investment at pace in the coming years.”

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Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.