The mainstream media is currently preoccupied with the cost of energy, and the rapidly rising bills facing UK households (though they don’t seem to talk quite so much about those same costs to UK businesses, rendering them less competitive and, in some cases, possibly leading to insolvency). And so, one might expect that concentrating on energy security and price competitiveness would be uppermost in the minds of those who are paid to think about such things. One would be wrong to think that.
Instead, this week sees the INTOG bidding process getting underway. Yet another acronym, this one standing for Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas which we are told “is a leasing round for offshore wind projects that will directly reduce emissions from oil & gas production and boost further innovation.”
This relates to the Scottish Crown Estate, because the devolved Scottish Government has a date of 2045 for its legal net zero obligation, unlike the UK Government’s 2050 date. And so the registration window for INTOG has commenced today, which is why I mention it now (with a closing date of 18th November 2022) since, apparently:
In order to reach net zero emissions by 2045, Scotland will need innovations in offshore wind which go beyond current technologies – so creating opportunities for developers to test new ideas is crucial.
Decarbonising oil & gas installations will also play an important role in the transition to net zero.
In the Alice Through the Looking Glass World which we now inhabit, the installations which bring oil and gas out of the North Sea have to be “decarbonised”, “by powering the installations with electricity from new wind farms instead.” This is all part of the North Sea Transition Deal and is, I suppose, related to the Oil and Gas Authority now calling itself The North Sea Transition Authority.
Shetland News has reported on this and offers a helpful clarification of what is going on here:
Developers can apply for the rights to build small-scale innovative offshore wind projects, of less than 100MW, and larger projects which will provide green electricity to oil and gas infrastructure to reduce their carbon emissions.
The INTOG (Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas) leasing process is separate from the ScotWind bidding round which is aimed at developers of offshore wind farms that will feed into the national grid….
…The lease period has been doubled to 50 years for electrification projects.
Central North Sea Electrification
This project covers the Shell Shearwater and Gannet installations as well as the BP ETAP, TotalEnergies Elgin-Franklin and Harbour Energy Judy platforms
Increasingly we see examples of offshore windfarms (or windfarms being built in places like Shetland) which require lengthy cabling to transfer the electricity thereby generated to the UK mainland. But now we find the possibility of the process being implemented in reverse.
The project is using power from shore, integrated with offshore wind, as the “reference case” for its plans, which would include a cable from landfall at Peterhead to roughly 125 miles out to the North Sea.
Energy Voice has been reporting on this for some time. I was particularly intrigued by this quote:
There is a good opportunity to share the costs of the transmission infrastructure. If we don’t have a wind development, we will be laying a cable 200km from shore to the Peterhead substation all at the expense of the oil and gas industry. Moreover this is only short-lived, so when the assets are decommissioned the infrastructure is useless.Now if you integrate it with the wind the costs are shared with the two parties then also, longer term, because the wind (farm) can be there for a longer period of 25-60 years so the infrastructure doesn’t become useless when the assets are decommissioned. That’s the intent: to share the costs of the infrastructure, to enable the wind development. So it’s a win-win for both wind and the oil and gas assets and enable faster development.
My intention here is simply to draw readers’ attention to developments that seem to be largely ignored by the mainstream media. I am writing in a hurry, and time does not permit me to explore this in detail just now, though I may return to it at a later date. Suffice to say for now that the last quote might just be a bit of a giveaway – the “cheap” wind energy we are always being told about perhaps isn’t so cheap after all, and this is a useful way of ensuring that the fossil fuel industries bear some of its costs and associated burdens.
In any event, given the prospect of blackouts this winter in the UK, shouldn’t we be concentrating on helping oil and gas companies (the latter particularly) provide us with more reliable fuel rather than on burdening them with more costs and transitioning requirements? It’s just a thought. I hope it’s a thought that also occurs to whoever becomes the UK’s next Prime Minister.