The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has hired Progressive Energy to conduct an in-depth feasibility study which would identify the value of establishing an energy hub on the Norfolk coast.

OGA said that a preliminary assessment of Bacton was already 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 Energy Hub; Source: OGA
Bacton Energy Hub; Source: OGA

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.

According to the OGA, 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 now started its analysis which would examine
several existing ideas within the oil and gas and renewables sectors, to assess
whether an energy hub at Bacton is viable and would 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.

Also, 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.

When Progressive Energy completes the 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 SNS area manager, said: “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 several sectors, each with their 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”.

David Parkin, project director of Progressive Energy, added: “We are excited to be helping the OGA 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”.

HyNet; Source: Progressive Energy
HyNet; Source: Progressive Energy

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