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ENGINEERING experts will investigate the potential to decarbonise operations at huge industrial plants in Scotland such as the Grangemouth refinery in a study that could have important ramifications amid the drive to achieve net zero.
Wood has been appointed to prepare a roadmap for how Scotland’s gas network system will need to be adapted if the country is to make the most of the potential of technologies such as hydrogen fuel and carbon capture and storage.
The work that the Aberdeen-based engineering giant will complete will include looking at how the network could be reconfigured to deal with emissions from what are seen as difficult to decarbonise sectors.
This could involve capturing carbon dioxide emissions from plants and then transporting them to storage facilities. There is excitement about the potential to use depleted North Sea fields for storage.
READ MORE: North Sea clean energy transition could generate 200,000 jobs finds report
Specialists reckon hydrogen fuel may be able to produce the huge amounts of power required for some industrial processes without producing the emissions associated with oil and gas.
“The north east of Scotland has the potential to become a major hydrogen hub thanks to its existing infrastructure and the clustering of major carbon emitters, as well as the proximity to storage capacity for sequestered carbon dioxide and onshore and offshore renewable energy resources,“ said Joe Sczurko, who runs the Wood division that will complete the study.
Sectors that are expected to be hard to decarbonise include refining and petrochemicals production, in which oil and gas are used as inputs and as power sources.
READ MORE: Grangemouth refinery owner in $5bn deal to buy BP’s petrochemicals unit
Wood said that with many of the largest emitters clustered together, key industrial locations such as Grangemouth would be major focal points for the study. It also cited Mossmorran in Fife, where output from the North Sea is used in chemicals production and the St Fergus gas processing terminal in Aberdeenshire.
The study will also look at how networks would need to be adapted to support large scale use of hydrogen fuel.
It is thought that so-called Blue Hydrogen could be produced from gas from North Sea fields. This would involve removing the carbon the gas contains for storage.
Green hydrogen could be produced from seawater using electrolysis.
Wood said it would investigate how SGN’s central belt and east coast distribution networks could be re-purposed and further developed “as a viable alternative to natural gas”, using hydrogen and carbon capture and storage technologies. It will employ specialists in areas such as renewables, carbon capture, hydrogen production and pipeline distribution on the study.
READ MORE: Pioneering scheme to produce hydrogen energy on Kintyre Peninsula advances
The roadmap work forms part of the North East Network & Industrial Cluster development project that Wood is completing with SGN. The gas networks business is owned by SSE and international investors.
Angus McIntosh, director of Energy Futures at SGN, said: “Cutting emissions from heavy industry is one of the biggest challenges that we face in the pathway to decarbonisation, but the deployment of 100% hydrogen generated by renewable sources, supported by carbon capture and storage, presents a credible solution.”
It is expected the pipeline study will be completed by March 2021.
After specialising in helping oil and gas firms to develop and operate offshore facilities, Wood has invested in developing its presence in the renewables market in recent years. Oil and gas firms are slashing investment amid the coronavirus crisis. North Sea activity slumped after the sharp fall in the crude price between 2014 and 2016.
Reuters reported that Royal Dutch Shell aims to cut its production costs by up to 40%.
The company was hit hard by the slump in North Sea activity that followed the sharp fall in the crude price between 2014 and 2016.
READ MORE: Shell to cut valuation of oil and gas assets by up to $22bn amid coronavirus crisis
Separately, Royal Dutch Shell aims to cut its oil and gas production cuts by up to 40% in response to the challenges facing the sector, Reuters has reported. However, the agency said that the North Sea is included in a list of regions that the oil giant has decided to focus its investment on.
The cost-cutting plans form part of a review called Project Reshape result in big changes at Shell.
Reuters cited sources involved with the review, without identifying them.