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NEWS & INSIGHT | article

There’s no single solution, but innovation is the answer

01 November 2021 5 minute read

What nations need to achieve at COP26 and beyond is immense. Incremental changes play their part, but more radical action is needed.

The below article was initially featured in the November edition of the AGCC Business Bulletin. You can read the article here: https://issuu.com/aberdeenchamber/docs/2021_bulletin_november_online

The Net Zero Technology Centre is leading the charge as both a champion and a catalyst for unlocking the power of innovation by bringing together technology developers, supply chain, investors and energy operators.

Launched in 2017 with funding from the Aberdeen City Region Deal, the Centre is playing a key role in decarbonising not only the oil and gas industry and accelerating the transition to a net zero future.

To date the Centre has co-invested £176 million in technologies which have the potential to generate £10-15 billion in gross value add to the UK economy, screened over 1280 technologies, completed 64 field trials, with a further 49 ongoing or planned and have progressed more than 23 technologies to commercialisation.

One of those companies developing these technologies is Air Control Entech, led by COO Kieran Hope. Corroding gutters on Kieran’s house sparked a eureka moment that turned standard offshore inspection methods on their head.

The Net Zero Technology Centre supported Air Control Entech in the development of a number of unmanned aerial vehicle systems that have since become fully commercialised and regularly deployed by asset operators. Their next generation remote inspection technology not only increases the speed of inspections by up to 20 times and reduces cost by 50%, it plays a key role in reducing emissions by lowering the carbon footprint of integrity management activities. The company now has a multinational presence, employing 14 people across the UK and Australia and has doubled revenue in the first half of the year.

To further tackle inspections in hazardous, confined and hard to reach places, Air Control Entech has expanded its services, offering robotic technologies including remotely operated vehicles and crawlers.

Start-ups spearheading change

Nurturing and developing entrepreneurial spirit feeds innovation. For this reason, start-ups feature heavily in helping industries around the globe transition to net zero. The Net Zero Technology Centre’s award-winning TechX Clean Energy Accelerator programme provides technology start-ups and early-stage businesses with the tools, support and resources they need to grow. Over the last three years, TechX has supported 33 start-up companies.

One such trailblazer is Mocean Energy, a TechX graduate which continues to make waves with their breakthrough technology. Over the last three years the company has grown from humble beginnings. The now strong team of 15 are further developing and trialling technology that captures energy from ocean waves to provide a predictable source of green electricity directly to offshore assets and help decarbonise North Sea infrastructure.

The Centre continues the journey with Mocean Energy, supporting them through the Renewables for Subsea Power project alongside partners EC-OG, Harbour Energy, Modus Limited and Baker Hughes. The project will demonstrate the potential of their prototype wave energy converter, Blue X, to provide renewable energy to subsea equipment including subsea batteries, a subsea control system and a autonomous underwater vehicle.

 Transforming the North Sea energy system

The Net Zero Technology Centre and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult set the direction for a UK net zero offshore energy system in their leading industry report ‘Reimagining a Net Zero North Sea: an integrated energy vision for 2050’.

The research highlights that up to £416bn investment is required over the next 30 years. With this comes a significant business opportunity that by 2050 could potentially contribute £125bn per year to the UK economy, while supporting more than 230,000 jobs.

The report outlines three potential scenarios to deliver a reimagined net zero North Sea, building on the region’s strong energy foundations.

Each scenario requires clear intent, supportive policies, investment at pace and strong alignment to unlock vast potential for the UK.

In support of this ambition, the recent award of £16.5 million to the Net Zero Technology Centre from the Scottish Government’s Energy Transition Fund will accelerate seven projects that form part of the Centre’s Net Zero Technology Transition Programme to transform the energy system.

From energy hubs, to creating a hydrogen backbone to position Scotland in a leading role for the development of pan-European hydrogen infrastructure, to enabling remotely controlled operations, empowered by data, robotics and autonomous systems, the projects are designed to develop the skills, technologies and infrastructure that Scotland needs to deliver an affordable green economic recovery.

 Shining a spotlight on technology at COP26

The Net Zero Technology Centre’s three-day COP26 fringe event, broadcast from Glasgow, will explore technologies that are set to disrupt the current energy system and accelerate net zero. The virtual technology showcase will delve into 12 game-changing technologies that address real-world challenges across a range of sectors from renewables to manufacturing.

In September the Centre launched its COP26 Clean Energy Start-up Pitch Battle, which saw the public cast their votes over a four week period. Pitching virtually were 29 tech start-ups from around the world, each with technology solutions that can drive the transition to a net zero energy industry. Ten finalists will be given the chance to pitch their technologies at the final in Glasgow. The start-up crowned winner will receive prizes including expert mentoring and pitching opportunities for investment.

Along with the goal of encouraging investment in renewables, enhancing international collaboration is a key priority for the COP26 Presidency. The ‘Technology Driving Transition Global Summit’ will see international partners present their flagship piece of research on the energy transition. They’ll compare technology priorities across regions and highlight areas where innovation can be utilised to drive the transition of mature hydrocarbon basins across the world to an integrated net zero energy future.

 Scotland at the forefront

Innovation and technology will support Scotland in becoming a global leader in net zero technology, as a home to manufacturers, designers, installers and operators of the next generation of low carbon energy systems.

As climate change policy progresses not only in the UK, but also in Europe and further afield, there will be an increasing number of opportunities for the UK to export low carbon technologies, products and expertise, emulating the success of the oil and gas sector.

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