Pioneering North Sea renewables project unveiled at COP 26

Offshore wind resources in the North Sea will create thousands of jobs and boost Scotland ‘s ambitions to be a world leader in renewable energy through a plan unveiled at COP 26 in Glasgow.

The Northern Horizons Project will use floating offshore wind turbines to produce green hydrogen which could fuel vehicles or be used in fuel cells to generate electricity during times of the day when the wind resource is low.

Norway’s Aker Offshore Wind, Aker Clean Hydrogen and DNV, consultants who are leading experts in the transition to a hydrogen-based economy, are behind the project, which they say is ‘a technically and economically feasible plan’.

It is described as a ‘response to the Scottish government’s stated ambition to develop Scotland’s potential to export significant quantities of hydrogen’.

The government is targeting 5GW of hydrogen production by 2030 and is actively looking for international collaboration in the development of a shared hydrogen economy.

This project could start production from 2030 and will ‘create thousands of jobs and the investment of billions of pounds during construction and operation’.

Sian Lloyd-Rees, managing director of Aker Offshore Wind UK, said: “This is a technically and economically feasible plan to deliver floating offshore wind at the scale needed to deliver clean energy products which can be used to help decarbonize fuel-heavy industries such as shipping and aviation."

I am proud that DNV has worked on this project that really does show a profitable business opportunity whilst contributing greatly to net zero targets

Ditlev Engel, CEO of Energy Systems at DNV, said: “To meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, the world needs to transition faster to a deeply decarbonized energy system.

"I am proud that DNV has worked on this project that really does show a profitable business opportunity creating economic growth and new job opportunities, whilst contributing greatly to the UK’s net zero targets."

The project will use floating offshore wind turbines to produce 10GW of energy to power multiple floating installations which will produce green hydrogen which will be transmitted to a net zero hydrogen refinery on Shetland.

Some observers have said COP 26 has seen more announcements that expected on agreements to reduce carbon emissions. Pete Betts, the former EU lead negotiator on climate change, told the BBC: ‘The mood of the conference is good. The trend towards a zero-carbon world is irreversible. The question is when we get there, and what the climate will be like by then."

Not everyone is as optimistic. Prominent climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg walked out of a panel discussion with former governor of the Bank of England and UN climate envoy Mark Carney shouting “this is greenwashing” .

She has denounced the COP26 summit in Glasgow for being the ‘most excluding COP ever’ and called the international conference a ‘greenwash festival’.

Ms Thunberg will join a climate protest march in Glasgow today when thousands of young people are expected to join the event, organised by Fridays for Future Scotland.

Many pupils are expected to strike from school to take part and Ms Thunberg has also urged Glasgow cleansing department workers on strike over pay to join the march.

The march will end at George Square in the city where Ms Thunberg is expected to speak, along with Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate and other youth activists from around the world.

By Richard Walker