Northern Horizons plans clean energy exports for Scotland

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Aker Horizons' new initiative, Northern Horizons, aims to make Scotland a clean energy exporter by utilising offshore wind resources in the North Sea.

Video: Aker Horizons

The project was unveiled at COP26 by Aker portfolio companies Aker Offshore Wind and Aker Clean Hydrogen, and independent energy assurance provider DNV. 

By harnessing renewable energy in the North Sea, Northern Horizons aims to deliver decarbonisation targets by sending clean energy products to the mainland and exporting them to fuel-heavy industries. It will utilise floating offshore wind turbines to produce 10GW of energy to power multiple floating installations which will produce green hydrogen for onwards transmission to a net zero hydrogen refinery on Shetland.

Green hydrogen is produced when renewable energy is used to power the electrolysis of water. The refinery will produce a range of zero-carbon energy solutions for local consumption and worldwide export, including ammonia, liquid hydrogen and synthetic fuels.

According to the report, enough liquid hydrogen will be produced to power 40 per cent of the total mileage of local UK buses as well as enough synthetic fuel to make 750 round trips from the UK to New York.

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The initiative has been launched as a response to the Scottish government’s ambition to develop the country’s potential to export significant quantities of hydrogen. The government is targeting 5GW of hydrogen production by 2030 and is seeking international collaboration in the development of a shared hydrogen economy.

Northern Horizons could start production from 2030 and aims to deliver predictability for a fit-for-purpose Scottish supply chain ready to support the energy transition toward 2045 and beyond. It is expected to create thousands of jobs and the investment of billions of pounds toward construction and operation.

Image credit: Aker Offshore Wind

Sian Lloyd-Rees, managing director of Aker Offshore Wind UK described the project as a ‘technically and economically feasible plan’ to deliver offshore wind at the scale needed for delivering clean energy to industries such as shipping and aviation.

The Aker companies and DNV are embarking on a consultation project with governments and businesses to mature the project toward future investment.

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

“This will require greater renewable power generation and electrification, but also extending the reach of renewable energy to hard-to-abate sectors that cannot be readily electrified — through conversion to green hydrogen and synthetic fuels.”