There’s been a story circulating recently about how Orsted’s plans for a big offshore wind park are clashing with BP’s plans to test under-sea storage of carbon dioxide. Big oil looks like it might take precedence over offshore wind. But in reality, things are even worse than this. Big oil are grabbing the best undersea storage resources for disposal of carbon dioxide and depriving renewable energy of potentially vital hydrogen storage options.
And the Government is letting Big oil and gas have these resources rather than reserve them for energy storage without even a discussion. That is despite the fact that a system running mostly on renewable energy – which we are heading towards whether Big oil or Big nuclear like it or not – runs better with more storage options for renewable energy. Renewable energy can, of course, be stored as hydrogen produced by using the renewable energy to electrolyse water
Academic studies discuss how, for example, how under-sea aquifers can be used for hydrogen storage, but big oil companies, even those who say they are promoting renewables, in reality are reserving such under-sea resources for carbon capture and storage (CCS). When companies like Equinor talk about hydrogen, they are talking about H2 from CCS. They often mention undersea storage, but seem to only emphasize its use for storing carbon dioxide. Now this is useless for supplying energy, which is what storage of green hydrogen can do. This hydrogen, produced when there is excess renewable energy production, can plug shortfalls when there is not enough production from wind or sun.
But then of course the name of the game is to seize the undersea offshore resources for the oil and gas companies and force renewables to the margins with stories of how hydrogen can be stored in caverns onshore. No doubt it can, but why do the oil companies not want to use this onshore option? Simple: they know that planning consent would be much harder to get.
So why are the Government giving precedence to Big Oil and Gas and their plans for blue hydrogen (hydrogen from natural gas with CCS) – that is as opposed to using sub-sea storage resources to store green hydrogen (eg from electricity from offshore windfarms)? Simple; because the big oil and gas and nuclear corporations dominate the lobbying of Government. The UK Government refuse to take the 100percent renewable energy option seriously.