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£416bn needed for North Sea energy sector or jobs will be risked - report

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The number of jobs in the North Sea energy sector is expected to fall by at least 20 per cent in the near future without urgent investment in the clean technologies, an analysis from the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (OREC) has found.

The research group has called on the Government to invest up to £416bn over the next 30 years to help it transition its energy supplies to the net-zero era.

It said such a move would support 232,000 North Sea jobs by 2050, an increase of 66 per cent from current levels.

The report also found that investment in clean energy technologies to accelerate the growth of floating offshore wind, green and blue hydrogen and carbon capture could deliver up to £125bn annually to the UK.

The OREC said that with enough investment, the UK could become a “supplier, rather than a buyer” of clean energy.

Last year, the Government passed a law committing the UK to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, a rule that will require radical transformation of many parts of the economy.

The report outlines three scenarios which have been modelled on the Committee on Climate Change’s Further Ambition scenario.

Each sees the UK achieve its net-zero goal by 2050 using a combination of energy solutions to meet demand, but each produces significantly different levels of economic benefits and green jobs.

In the Emerging scenario, renewable energy plays an increasing role, with gas still a significant contributor to the offshore energy mix and a significant requirement for carbon capture and storage (CCS).

In Progressive, an increased share of offshore renewables dominates the electricity market alongside a blue/green hydrogen mix, with a major role for CCS.

Transformational outlines an energy system that is driven by offshore wind and green hydrogen, with oil and gas demand matched by clean domestic supply.

Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: “I welcome this report and its ambitious vision to help transition the North Sea offshore oil and gas sector towards a Net Zero future.

“Protecting highly skilled jobs in the oil and gas industry is important to our net-zero aspirations, as we need the same skills, businesses and infrastructure to underpin net-zero solutions.

Scotland energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said the report comes at a “critical” period as the UK makes efforts to recover the Covid-19-induced economic slump.

“An integrated offshore energy system – including carbon capture, utilisation and storage and the use of hydrogen – can help Scotland and the UK meet our challenging greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in the timescale necessary for action, while also supporting Europe’s decarbonisation,” he said.

 

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