Plan to Transition Orkney Oil Facility to Green Hydrogen Production

converting oil terminal to green hydrogen production powered by offshore wind
Land alongside Orkney's Flotta terminal could be used for a hydrogen production facility (OWPL)

Published Oct 12, 2021 5:56 PM by The Maritime Executive

One of the concepts that continues to draw attention for renewable energy is linking offshore wind energy generation with the production of hydrogen. Exploration has begun primarily along the North Sea where it is believed the combination could create new economic opportunities for the wind industry while creating a source of clean, renewable energy.
“We believe that green hydrogen could provide a critical alternative route to market for some of Scotland’s largest offshore wind projects and play a significant role in creating wider economic benefits as the North Sea goes through its energy transition,” explains Edward Northam, Head of Green Investment Group Europe.

A consortium formed by Macquarie’s Green Investment Group, TotalEnergies, and Scottish developer Renewable Infrastructure Development Group (RIDG) is studying the use of offshore wind to power the production of green hydrogen. They are exploring the opportunities to link with Scotland’s developing offshore wind farms to develop green hydrogen on an industrial scale. They are targeting the island of Flotta in Orkney, Scotland.  

“Flotta is an ideal location for green hydrogen production – it is surrounded by the best wind resource in Europe, it lies close to major shipping routes within the vast natural harbor of Scapa Flow. The time is right to maximize the incredible natural assets and geography of the Flow and Orkney to ensure a long-term sustainable, climate-friendly future for our communities,” said James Stockan, Leader of Orkney Islands Council.”

The Flotta Terminal has been in operation since 1976 serving as a crude oil reception, processing, storage, and export facility. Receiving oil, and previously natural gas, by pipeline, Flotta has a deep-water terminal for the export of the energy resources. Under the plan being proposed by the consortium, the Flotta terminal would be progressively transformed into a diversified energy hub where conventional oil and gas operations continue, alongside the development of a sustainable long-term green future for the facility.  

The Offshore Wind Power Limited consortium submitted a proposal to the Crown Estate Scotland’s offshore wind leasing round to develop a portion of the area west of Orkney. If successful, the proposal would develop renewable power and a green hydrogen production facility at the Flotta Terminal.?  

Plans to power the proposed Flotta Hydrogen Hub are being developed in partnership with Flotta Terminal’s owner Repsol Sinopec, and Uniper. 

“The production of green hydrogen is a hugely exciting opportunity for both offshore wind and the Scottish supply chain,” said Mike Hay, RIDG Commercial Director. “Projects with substantial capacity factors, such as the West of Orkney Windfarm, could deliver highly competitive power to facilities like the Flotta Hydrogen Hub which could, in turn, supply demand for hydrogen both nationally and internationally.”

The group believes the proposal provides a strong case repurposing the oil terminal facility to provide an additional 25 years or more of economic life to the aging facility. It would also position the region as a leader in the new green energy economy.