Low Carbon Tech set to create 26,000 UK jobs

A trio of exciting new low-carbon technologies will create 26,000 new energy jobs in the UK by 2030, according to research from Robert Gordon University (RGU).

Many of them would be in coastal communities stretching across the UK from East Anglia, North East England, North East Scotland, and as far as Merseyside and North Wales.

RGU’s Institute for Energy Transition analyzed the potential benefits of three rapidly expanding new energy technologies.

  • Mass production of hydrogen – a green fuel that can replace natural gas and diesel
  • Carbon transport and storage – where CO2 emissions are buried underground forever
  • Electrification of marine platforms – to reduce emissions from oil and gas production.

However, the findings come with a warning from Offshore Energies UK (OEUK), which commissioned the investigation. Its members now face the government’s new Energy Profits Tax which gives 65% of profits from offshore oil and gas extraction to the Treasury.

The Energy Profits Levy is expected to pass Parliament on Monday (July 11), meaning oil and gas operators will have less money to invest in new technology.

The RGU investigation was commissioned by OEUK under the North Sea Transition Agreement, a 2021 agreement between the offshore oil and gas industry and the UK government. The agreement recognizes the sector’s role in the secure supply of oil and gas, while allowing offshore oil and gas companies to produce low-carbon energy, including offshore wind power.

RGU looked at three investment scenarios to calculate how many jobs the deal could create by 2030. It found that if the UK government’s British Energy Security Strategy targets were met, by 2030 the UK would be:

  • Storing 30 million tons of CO2 underground each year
  • Produce 10 gigawatts of hydrogen (roughly the equivalent of 10 large power plants)
  • Operate 10 offshore oil or gas platforms with low-carbon electricity.
  • Employing up to 26,000 additional people: 15% of the total offshore industry workforce.

These targets represent Robert Gordon University’s best-case scenario, in which the UK Government’s British Energy Security Strategy is fully met. This would mean that people working on hydrogen production, CO2 transport and storage, and electrification projects would account for close to 15% of the entire offshore energy workforce by 2030.

Depending on investment levels, this represents between 8,000 and 26,000 new energy jobs created by 2030 due to NSTD-related activities such as CO2 processing, transportation, and storage. In the same best-case scenario, it would also represent investment in UK activities of more than £14bn by 2030.

However, many more jobs are likely to be created by activities related to the NSTD but outside the scope of offshore industries, such as CO2 capture, CO2 imports, construction of some facilities, and especially exports. technology and experience from the UK.

The energy security bill, published by the government last week, included a fact sheet that said: “The proposed CO2 storage and transport facilities supported by this bill will establish a new UK-wide CCUS industry that could generate up to 50,000 jobs by 2030”.

RGU’s research predates the Energy Profits Levy, the implications of which are not captured in the study. However, OEUK warned that the tax will cost the industry at least £5bn this year alone and thus risks discouraging investment needed for new technology in years to come.

Katy Heidenreich, Director of Supply Chain and Operations at OEUK, said spending on electrification was the technology most affected by the new tax, but all three depended on offshore operators having the money and confidence to invest in energy. from United Kingdom.

She said:

“This study shows that the UK offshore energy workforce is at the heart of the energy transition. The North Sea Transition Agreement has the potential to harness the expertise of our oil and gas workforce for cleaner energy that will help us achieve our climate goals. However, the UK government’s proposed new Energy Profits Levy threatens to undermine this.

“Prioritizing energy produced here in the UK will help ensure we have reliable energy supplies now, as well as lower carbon energy in the future. It will help provide affordable energy to millions of homes, secure tens of thousands of jobs in the industrial heartland across the country and support the UK economy.

“This potential is now at risk as investors face the unexpected tax from the UK government on the sector. To achieve the best possible outcome outlined in this study, the UK marine energy industry needs an environment that encourages investment and recognizes our continuing need for oil and gas as new low emission developments and technologies come on stream. carbon.

“More than ever, we need to think long-term and a political and investment environment that is predictable and stable.”

Dr Alix Thom, OEUK Chief People Officer, who leads the People and Skills elements of the NSTD, said:

“Oil and gas companies are leading the UK’s move towards cleaner energy. Our study gives the UK oil and gas industry supply chain the information it needs to plan ahead, but all of this relies on the UK maintaining a stable and predictable tax regime.”

Professor Paul de Leeuw of Robert Gordon University (RGU) and lead author of the review said:

“The energy transition will bring exciting new opportunities for the UK offshore energy workforce. Equipping that workforce with the skills needed for the jobs of the future and ensuring a coordinated, fair and just transition will be critical. The RGU review highlights a potential award of up to 26,000 additional jobs by 2030. The successful delivery of this award will depend on the industry’s ability to develop and deliver the required new low-carbon projects over the remainder of this decade.” .

Leave a Comment