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NEWS & INSIGHTS | article

NZTC Hydrogen Backbone Link project finalist in OAA Awards

17 January 2024 4 minute read

The Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC) has been shortlisted in Offshore Achievement Awards 2024, recognising outstanding achievements in the energy industry.

Under the category of Collaboration, NZTC has been shortlisted for Hydrogen Backbone Link (HBL) project, which saw collaborative partners come together to explore and validate the concept of an all new hydrogen pipeline from Scotland to Europe, using Germany as a case study, and has also given recognition to the UK in supporting European growth.

The HBL project was initiated from a desktop concept of exporting hydrogen from Scotland to Europe by using existing pipelines and infrastructure.

Phase 1 of the project was to develop feasibility studies to confirm or reject the concept, and was funded by the Scottish Government and industry partners.  A consortium agreement was developed that included funding partners Kellas Midstream, Shetland Island Council, EnQuest, Shell and Crown Estates Scotland, with the funding amount from each partner being varied, based on their interest at that time. Strategic partners included NG (previously National Grid and now National GAS) and SGN (Scottish Gas Network). Twelve scopes of work were developed by various engineering companies, and the project required a high degree of project management and robust, transparent communication with all partners, which was achieved through ongoing Steering meetings, communication platforms, weekly reports, and also review of all documents.

The challenge was to ensure that the project was developed based on confirmed information and data, and not be controlled nor directed by any stakeholder preference, thus removing the likelihood of bias. This was aided by ensuring studies documented all relevant data and information, and all comments and responses were tracked and addressed.

Initial review of attempting to reuse existing pipelines quickly highlighted technical constraints to changeover from natural gas pipeline to hydrogen, along with availability (some are not available until mid 2040s), and by the time they would be ready for use for hydrogen, they will have already reached design life extension limits.  A new pipeline from Shetland / Flotta to Europe was proposed as a suitable alternative, including an economic model that confirmed that this was a commercially viable option. All options and documents were reviewed and commented by partners.

By end of Phase 1, the concept of transporting hydrogen from Scotland to Europe involved an all new pipeline, with high interest from stakeholders.

Phase 2 of the project has welcomed additional partners, and has achieved higher funding than anticipated. The goal for the end of this phase is to have a package ready for developing project to installation. The project continues to have high interest locally and internationally, where development of European relationship and confirming final connection(s) to Europe will be a big part of Phase 2, requiring collaboration with variety of partners and stakeholders. The six funding partners for phase 2 will be Kellas MidStream, EnQuest, Storrega, Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), ESB Energy and Port of Rotterdam (POR).

NZTC Hydrogen Backbone and Energy Hubs Project Manager Callum Milne said:

“The HBL Project is key to identifying Scotland as a lead for hydrogen export to Europe, and is also part of the overall plan to meet net zero targets. Phase1 required active collaboration from partners that led to the development of an all new pipeline. Phase 2 has started with an already active participation from partners. Final layout of the new pipeline will be further developed along with connections to UK and Europe. Phase 2 will also consider non technical requirements such as marketing and relationships required with governmental and industry – a recommendation made by partners.”

The winners of the OAA Awards will be revealed at an event in Aberdeen on 14th March 2024.

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