Bacton primed for hydrogen, UK Oil and Gas Authority report shows

Author: Jake Stones

2021/06/09

LONDON (ICIS)--A study commissioned by the UK Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has found that hydrogen production at Bacton could supply enough low-carbon energy for London and South East England.

The report outlined that Bacton would be well-suited for both large scale blue and green hydrogen production. It also indicated that hydrogen from the area could help to decarbonise up to 20% of the UK population, with potential to decarbonise domestic, commercial and industrial energy offtake sectors, as well as transportation.

BLUE HYDROGEN AT BACTON

According to the findings of the study, there could be sufficient reserves of natural gas within the area of Bacton for the production of blue hydrogen to last into the 2040s. Captured carbon from the blue hydrogen process would be stored offshore.

Bacton terminal is a key landing point for UK continental shelf (UKCS) gas production. In 2020, roughly 32% of UKCS production landed at Bacton terminal, accounting for 11.6 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas, according to data collected by ICIS.

If all the 11.6bcm were used to create blue hydrogen via an Auto Thermal Reforming (ATR) unit, total output could be 98TWh of hydrogen. However, according to data released by the UK Oil and Gas Authority, UKCS gas production is due to fall to 17.8 bcm/year by 2030, down from a projected 33.2bcm in 2021, suggesting that far less than 98TWh could be produced from available natural gas reserves by the end of the decade.

The UK Oil and Gas Authority also projects that net gas demand by 2030 will drop to 60.9bcm, down from 67.6bcm expected this year.

However, both the Dutch-UK BBL and the Beglium-UK Interconnector pipelines deliver at Bacton, with combined capacity of over 100 million cubic metres (mcm)/day, meaning that even after UKCS supplies delcine there is potential for large-scale blue hydrogen to continue.

GREEN HYDROGEN

As well as substantial blue hydrogen production, the report notes potential for hydrogen from wind, namely green hydrogen.

Up to 15GW of wind capacity is planned for the area, offering large volumes of green hydrogen production potential. This is mainly because periods of high wind generation could result in curtailments due to grid limitations, so using this power for hydrogen generation offers a means of storing wind-generated electrons instead. However, the study doesn’t forecast that green hydrogen will become cost competitive with blue hydrogen until the mid 2040s.

Due to the intermittency of green hydrogen production, the study outlines the need for hydrogen storage for green hydrogen. Comparatively, blue hydrogen production can be ramped up and down to match demand.