Green hydrogen leadership position is “up for grabs” for the UK as energy transition takes centre stage at exports conference

3,000 delegates took part in the third Energy Exports Conference, with more than US$500bn in global project opportunities showcased

The UK energy sector was urged to seize the fast-growing hydrogen sector opportunity with both hands and take the global lead at the Energy Exports Conference 2021, as clean technology innovators and neighbours Norway only recently published a “soft” hydrogen roadmap.

In the closing Keynote Industry Plenary session on the final day of the event, Scandinavian energy giants and energy transition experts met to discuss Denmark and Norway's successful transition from a traditional oil and gas focus to dominating the global offshore wind market.

Nel Hydrogen's CEO Jon Andre Lokke urged the same kind of rapid government intervention that led to fellow panellists Ørsted and Equinor dominating global offshore wind, but said the Western European nations had not yet taken the same “all-in” action with hydrogen, providing a clear opportunity for the UK to corner the market with its abundant green hydrogen resource potential as the Europe's largest offshore wind market.

Jon Andre Lokke added: “Hydrogen produced from renewables, such as wind and solar, is a key enabler for the energy transition. With the current cost trend of renewables, we see green hydrogen is on a trajectory to start outcompeting fossil solutions by the middle of this decade.”

Collaboration, the exporting of key skills, and focusing on innovative next generation technologies were also seen as key to the North Sea region becoming a global hub for hydrogen and CCUS.

Less than nine months since EEC 2020, which highlighted the energy transition sectors as important but mostly conceptual, the 2021 event brought more operators and contractors working on real projects in hydrogen and CCUS to the event with actionable opportunities and direction for the energy supply chain, including the Yara Pilbara hydrogen project and Porthos Port CCUS project.

Stuart Broadley, CEO of the Energy Industries Council (EIC), the lead organiser of the event, said: “This year's Energy Exports Conference was another huge success, seamlessly bringing global project buyers from across all energy sectors with more than 1,000 UK supply chain businesses, establishing EEC as a must-attend event in the annual calendar.”

Mr Broadley led the keynote session on the final day of the event, providing fascinating insights into the successes of Scandinavia's top energy firms and covering topics such as the hydrogen, floating offshore wind and CCUS sectors, and how the North Sea region can become world leaders in these rapidly growing markets.

Setting the scene for the session was the Rt. Hon. Graham Stuart MP, Minister for Exports at the Department for International Trade, who said: “A particular focus of our refreshed Export Strategy will be on key sectors of the future, supporting our aims for long-term economic resilience and prosperity.

“This includes clean growth. We know there are countless commercial opportunities out there for British businesses and we want to support our clean energy exporters to grasp those opportunities.

“The efforts of organisations like the Energy Industries Council and its members will continue to play a key role in our export success, and I look forward to continuing our collaboration to champion our brilliant British energy exports.'

Duncan Clark, SVP, Head of UK at Ørsted, said: “As we look to accelerate decarbonisation, renewable hydrogen presents a real opportunity and with the offshore wind capacity we continue to develop in the UK there is the potential to be at the global forefront of this technology.

“It was excellent to have these discussions exploring the opportunities that exist along with the new capabilities and technologies now essential to the global energy transition. To make the most of local and export opportunities, we need competitive supply and service networks that provide the capacity to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding global renewable boom - all delivered at pace.”

David Cairns, Vice President Political and Public Affairs at Equinor, said: “The North Sea is an amazing opportunity for Europe's low carbon energy future, from offshore wind to hydrogen and storing carbon dioxide. We look forward to increasing cooperation between the UK and Norway to make the most of it.”

The Opening Keynote Plenary session officially opened the Energy Exports Conference on Monday, hearing first from Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport in the Scottish Government Michael Matheson, who said: “I was delighted to have joined the Energy Exports Conference panel to set out Scotland's priorities around Net Zero, Trade and Investment. Scottish businesses are leading the world in embracing the economic opportunity of climate innovation and we stand ready to support climate investment and innovation at home and from across the globe.

“We are committed to increasing clean energy exports as we seek to achieve the rapid decarbonisation required, both home and abroad, to respond to the climate emergency. We want to play our part and to work closely with like-minded friends near and far in tackling what is the biggest challenge we face today.”

The opening session also featured Talal Al-Marri, President and CEO of Aramco Europe, who said: “Our industry will require a multitude of solutions to support the energy transition, including low-carbon fuels, carbon capture, hydrogen and renewables. Aramco is committed to an interdisciplinary approach to innovative and cost-effective solutions for carbon management.”

Returning to EEC alongside Mr Al-Marri was Sir Ian Wood KT GBE, Chairman of Energy Transition Ltd, who commented: I was delighted to address an international audience at the opening of this important event at a critical time for the industry at home and abroad.

“There is clearly a lot of exciting activity across energy transition, along with the continuing importance and need for oil & gas as part of an integrated energy mix and the huge potential to be realised from the ScotWind offshore licencing round.

“We've got a lot of exciting activity underway in north east Scotland and across the UK. Alongside this its vitally important we retain our strong international and outward-looking approach to build on our existing export activities, support international energy transition projects and drive further export growth and the Energy Exports Conference is a great showcase for this.”

More than 3,000 attendees from 1,000 energy companies joined this year's event to hear from the event's 200 speakers in the 50 sessions over the four days.

Supported by Platinum Sponsor Petrofac and organised by the Energy Industries Council (EIC) with its partners, the Energy Exports Conference 2021 saw over 500 more delegates attending the fast-growing energy supply chain event, dedicated to providing opportunities and support for exporters in the energy sector.

The following release is courtesy of the Energy Industries Council's media centre, published on June 21.