IT almost sounds too good to be true, but in the race to decarbonise our energy supplies, Scotland will soon be a “green” leader thanks to an ingenious plan to use renewable offshore wind to create hydrogen.

Thousands of jobs will be created in an investment worth billions, led by Norwegian-based companies who already have a strong track record of investing in Scottish renewables. Electricity can be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, a process known as electrolysis. Green hydrogen is produced when renewable energy is used to power the electrolysis of water.

Scotland’s offshore wind farms can generate electricity to power water electrolysis to produce hydrogen, which could be used to fuel vehicles, or stored and then used in fuel cells to generate electricity during times of the day when the wind resource is low.

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At COP26, an ambitious new project was announced which will lead to Scotland becoming an exporter of clean energy. The Northern Horizons Project was unveiled by Norway’s Aker Offshore Wind, Aker Clean Hydrogen, and DNV, the Norway-based consultants who are leading experts in the transition to a hydrogen-based economy. According to reports from COP26, Northern Horizons aims to harness 10GW of renewable energy in the North Sea, where giant turbines are being installed on platforms almost 100 miles from Shetland.

This renewable energy will be used to power multiple floating installations which will produce green hydrogen for onwards transmission to a net zero hydrogen refinery on Shetland.

The refinery will itself be powered by floating offshore wind turbines, and will produce a range of zero carbon energy solutions for local consumption and export across the world, including ammonia, liquid hydrogen, and synthetic fuels.

The Northern Horizons initiative is a response to the Scottish Government’s aim to develop Scotland’s potential for exporting significant quantities of hydrogen.

The Scottish Government is targeting 5GW of hydrogen production by 2030 and is seeking international collaboration in the development of a shared hydrogen economy.

The project, which could start production from 2030, will deliver “predictability for a fit-for-purpose Scottish supply chain” ready to support the transition. According to reports, enough liquid hydrogen will be produced to power 40% of the total mileage of local UK buses, as well as enough synthetic fuel to make 750 round trips from the UK to New York.

Ditlev Engel, chief executive of Energy Systems at DNV, said: “To meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, the world needs to transition faster to a deeply decarbonised energy system.

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“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.”

Sian Lloyd-Rees, managing director of Aker Offshore Wind UK, said: “Such innovation and private sector investment are key to meeting the UK and Scotland’s net zero targets and delivering the unprecedented ambition on display here in Glasgow at COP26. 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.”