Crunch time looms for floating wind and hydrogen scheme to turn North Sea green

Plans for a “trailblazing” 200-turbine floating wind and hydrogen development to help propel the North Sea towards a greener future have taken a step forward after the signing of a new agreement.

Green infrastructure developer Cerulean Winds has teamed up with PX Group, the operator of large-scale industrial facilities, as it moves to progress its ambitious plans.

The Cerulean proposal has the capacity to generate about three gigawatt hours (GWh) of power, enough to electrify the majority of offshore facilities, reducing CO2 emissions by more than half from 2025. An excess of 1.5 GWh of power would be diverted to onshore green hydrogen plants.

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The three onshore hydrogen sites would be located in the north of England, north-east Scotland and on Shetland.

An example of a floating wind turbine as proposed under the ambitious North Sea plans.

Under the latest agreement, PX Group would be responsible for lease and ownership arrangements for the sites and for obtaining planning consents and permitting. This would include obtaining the outline approvals prior to more detailed engagement with local government, regulatory and environmental stakeholders.

PX, which owns Saltend Chemicals Park in Humber, manages, operates, and maintains some of the UK’s largest industrial facilities, including the NSMP St Fergus Gas Terminal near Peterhead.

Dan Jackson, founding director of Cerulean Winds, said: “PX Group’s expertise and asset base make it a valuable addition to Cerulean’s UKCS [UK continental shelf] decarbonisation proposition.

“This project which would see the offshore industry helping cut emissions from onshore industrial sites, is a real turning point in the shift towards a joined-up approach to tackling accelerating the decarbonisation of the UK’s on and offshore industrial facilities.

“The North Sea Transition Deal calls for a reduction in offshore emissions of 10 per cent by 2025, rising to 25 per cent in 2027 and 50 per cent by 2030.

“The Cerulean proposal would exceed these targets. Crucially though, the green power would be used to generate green hydrogen which can be used to decarbonise other industrial sectors.

“That lines us up to put us on a par with other countries such as Germany which has taken the decision to decarbonise its heavy industries and is actively looking at how to use green energy from windfarms to do that.”

Geoff Holmes, chief executive of PX Group, said: “As an owner and an operator, PX Group has over 25 years hands-on experience in developing cleaner energy projects and reducing emissions. Operating and managing infrastructure which supports the UK’s energy transition is core to our business and we are thrilled to be able to support the decarbonisation of offshore facilities in the North Sea.”

The progression of Cerulean’s multi-billion-pound green infrastructure plan hinges on a decision from Marine Scotland. The company has made a formal request for seabed leases, asking that the Scottish and UK governments make an “exceptional” case to deliver an “extraordinary” outcome for the economy and environment.

A favourable decision, argues Cerulean, must be made soon to progress the scheme to meet the timescales set out in the North Sea Transition Deal.

“Timing is absolutely crucial in this,” added Jackson. “Everything hinges on those leases being granted, even conditionally, by this autumn so we can move ahead on schedule.”

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