Large offshore wind farm proposed north of Shetland

A NEW floating offshore wind farm is being proposed to the north of Shetland – with plans to link the development to a hydrogen refinery in the isles.

The 10GW offshore wind farm, which would be located 136km north of Shetland, is being proposed by Aker Horizons, and it was unveiled at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

The Northern Horizons project, which the developer says would save seven million tons of CO2 a year, has been described as a “globally significant proposal”.

The 20MW turbines involved would have a tip height of 295m. In contrast, the Viking Energy turbines will be 155m.

Image: Aker Offshore Wind

Aker said the “offshore development area would be 10 times the size of Glasgow”.

The developer said some of the “clean energy generated can power homes and businesses in Shetland – while the rest would be turned into green hydrogen” on a floating production platform.

This hydrogen would then be “transported to a net zero hydrogen refinery on Shetland which would use it to create products such as ammonia, liquid hydrogen and synthetic fuels” for local consumption and wider export.

The plans also appear to suggest a new hydrogen pipeline to mainland Scotland.

Aker said each year the project would produce enough green hydrogen to heat 916,000 UK homes, while it could provide enough liquid hydrogen to power 40 per cent of the total mileage of UK buses.

The project, which could start production from 2030, would “create thousands of jobs and the investment of billions of pounds during construction and operation”.

Aker and DNV, the independent energy expert and assurance provider, are now embarking on a consultation project with governments and businesses to bring the project towards a future investment decision.

Sian Lloyd-Rees, managing director of Aker Offshore Wind UK. Photo: Aker Offshore Wind

Sian Lloyd-Rees, managing director of Aker Offshore Wind UK, said: “This is a technically and economically feasible plan to deliver floating offshore wind at the scale needed to deliver clean energy products which can be used to help decarbonise fuel-heavy industries such as shipping and aviation.”

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

“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.

“I am proud that DNV has worked on this project that really does show a profitable business opportunity creating economic growth and new job opportunities, whilst contributing greatly to the UK’s net zero targets.”

The plans tie in with hopes to turn Shetland into a “green energy island” through the ORION project, of which turning wind power into hydrogen is a key aspect.

It is separate to Cerulean Winds’ plans to install a total of 200 wind turbines west of Shetland and in the central North Sea, which would power a hydrogen plant at Sullom Voe.

Cerulean Winds’ plan would have a capacity to generate 3GW of wind power, which is dwarfed by Aker’s 10GW offshore project.

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