The North-east’s potential for leading the way in the global energy transition was one of the key themes to emerge from AREG’s inaugural Energy Futures Conference and Exhibition.
More than 400 delegates from across the energy sector attended the event, organised by Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group at P&J Live.
The opening speech by Net Zero and Energy Secretary, Michael Matheson, highlighted the significance of the event and the relevance of its timely agenda taking place in Europe’s energy capital.
The one-day programme focused on the future of offshore renewables, Scotland’s hydrogen ambition, the changing supply chain, skills challenges, and the transformation of the workforce.
The Cabinet Secretary’s keynote addressed the growth of green hydrogen and the potential for its production, manufacture, and export, which he said could be worth up to £25bn for the Scottish economy and support as many as 300,000 jobs by 2045. Mr Matheson also highlighted the significance of offshore wind with ScotWind and INTOG as well as the skills developed over decades of oil and gas production.
Mr Matheson said:
“Fundamental changes are needed to reduce emissions and tackle the global climate emergency. Our energy transition will be central to this – not just in order to deliver on our net zero ambitions, but to create high-quality, well-paid green jobs while helping to create a clean, reliable and affordable energy supply for people and businesses across the country.
“There are tremendous opportunities ready to be seized over the coming years as our renewables capabilities and wider supply chains grow and it is mission-critical that we capitalise on these opportunities to deliver a just transition for the people, communities and economy of the North-east and the rest of Scotland.”
Like every city across the world, Aberdeen faces the challenge of transitioning to become smarter and more efficient to reduce its emissions. All six panel members from the morning plenary reinforced that the region is ideally placed to leverage its unique assets and capabilities, from decades of oil and gas experience, to lead the way in the energy transition globally, driving change in the way we use and produce energy.
The panellists also highlighted the need to invest in new technologies and the development of a skilled, agile, and adaptable workforce, capable of moving from oil and gas to renewables, at a rapid pace.
Maggie McGinlay, CEO, ETZ Ltd said:
“I was delighted to take part in the Energy Futures Conference, and it is great to witness first-hand the sheer enthusiasm and determination amongst industry to ensure the North-east of Scotland capitalises on the vast opportunities energy transition will bring.
This region is ideally placed to share our expertise and understanding of how to accelerate new energies, particularly offshore wind, creating opportunities for the UK supply chain, and driving innovation globally.”
Echoing similar themes to those covered at the COP27 ‘Energy Day’ in Egypt industry leaders at the conference gathered to focus on a just and equitable transition and the need to accelerate technology breakthroughs such as green hydrogen.
With more than 20 stands in the exhibition hall, the theme of technology and innovation was evident throughout the day.
A tech bites’ area, hosted by OGV, featured a series of short presentations on the latest solutions to reduce carbon emissions, with representatives from organisations including Vattenfall, Buchan Offshore Wind Farm, the University of Aberdeen and Camphill Schools.
Meanwhile, bp Aberdeen Hydrogen Energy Ltd, the joint venture between bp and Aberdeen City Council developing a green hydrogen production hub, showcased a demonstrator model which produces green hydrogen to power a model car around a track.
The demonstrator depicts how the Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub will operate when it starts producing hydrogen in 2024.
Dr Oliver Taylor, CEO, bp Aberdeen Hydrogen Energy Ltd, explained how the project is developing:
“The hub will focus on producing a resilient supply of green hydrogen and we see an opportunity to scale the facility to use power from offshore wind in the not-too-distant future. We aim to build a network that is scalable over time and can potentially include opportunities for heating and aviation. We want to build an investable proposition to support economic development in the city and region and create benefits for both the public and private sectors.”
bp Hydrogen Aberdeen Ltd is part of the North East Scotland Hydrogen Ambition Steering Committee (NESH2A), a group of experienced executives from both public and private sector organisations who are actively working on developing a hydrogen economy in the region.
Other partners in NESH2A include Storegga, Hydrasun, AREG, Net Zero Technology Centre, ERM, SGN, ETZ Ltd, Scottish Enterprise and North East Scotland College.
The event concluded with an evening dinner where New York-based sustainable cities expert and GlobalScot, Lolita Jackson MBE, shared her experience of a career in climate improvements and resilience within communities while Scottish Business Network America’s president, GlobalScot, international advocate, columnist and speaker Ian Houston shared his thoughts remotely.
David Rodger AREG CEO, said:
“Seeing hundreds of people at our first conference reinforced the commitment, of our members, stakeholders and the North-east community, to making the changes necessary for a timely and just transition.
“As one of the original energy transition organisations in the North-east, it’s our mission to be a powerful voice in the net zero conversation, at home and overseas, and yesterday clearly demonstrated that goal in action. The support we received for the Energy Futures Conference and Exhibition from our sponsors, partners and the wider community was overwhelming, and we are confident discussions had at the event will accelerate progress towards a low carbon energy future for the region.”
Event sponsors and supporters included bp, Shell, STC INSISO, Vattenfall, North Star, Fennex, Energy Voice, OGV, Scottish Renewables, Aberdeen Science Centre, OPITO, Scottish Hydrogen Fuel Cell Association (SHFCA) and North East Scotland Hydrogen Ambition (NESH2A) Steering Committee.