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Decommissioning, diversification and repurposing: a vital element of achieving energy transition

Last updated 11 November 2021

Transitioning to more sustainable energy sources and related infrastructures is all about sustainability.

It’s not just a simple matter of ‘out with the old and in with the new’. Decommissioning old equipment and technologies with minimal environmental impact is an important part of energy transition.

With our pioneering development and use of sustainable energy production methods and related systems, we have a decommissioning offer across offshore wind, civil nuclear, oil and gas extraction and mining that is proven and is highly exportable.

Oil and gas decommissioning

With the level of talent and expertise that can be called on, our oil and gas sector has an important part to play in not only the domestic energy transition, but also in that of other countries where these skills may not be so readily available.

Established skills such as carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) across the supply chain all have an important part to play in supporting emerging technologies. Capabilities that are equally applicable to the use of hydrogen.

The UK’s decommissioning policies in the oil and gas, renewables, and nuclear sectors, put us in a strong position to handle the end cycle of the energy transition.

Our domestic dedication to safe and sustainable decommissioning also stands us in good stead as a leader in the field, with skills and experience that can be deployed around the world.

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Nuclear decommissioning and waste management

As one of the earliest countries to develop civil nuclear power and among the first to address waste and decommissioning, the UK is recognised the world over for its ground-breaking work in dismantling civil nuclear power reactors and associated facilities.

The UK leads the way in the fields of decommissioning nuclear installations and managing the associated waste.

Decommissioning and clean-up of the first generation of UK Magnox power stations is well underway, as well as a range of other facilities, including research, fuel facilities, and prototype plants.

Offshore wind decommissioning

As installations from the 1990s are reaching the end of their life cycle, more and more UK offshore wind farms are being decommissioned.

As the country with the highest level of offshore wind capacity, the UK has a significant offering in offshore wind decommissioning, mainly through specialist skills and experience gathered from oil and gas decommissioning.

While it is still a relatively new area, the expectation is that UK ports will be able to sustainably decommission oil and gas assets to move into this space. For example, the UK is developing the technology to break down turbine blades into materials that can be re-used either for new blades or other materials.

Carbon capture, usage and storage

Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) is the process of capturing, transporting, reusing, or storing carbon emissions from heavily emitting industries: oil, coal and gas, hydrogen production, cement, and steel manufacturing.

The captured CO2 is transported via pipelines or ships to a permanent storage site. CO2 can also be used for a variety of industrial purposes such as synthetic fuel or in the food and drinks industry.

Besides strong engineering abilities, playing important roles in the development of international CCS deployment projects, the UK’s consultancy and professional services in this area have been involved in determining feasibility studies around the world.

Add to its unrivalled access to offshore storage, the experience of managing the sequestration of CO2, and the attraction of the UK carbon capture offering is easy to see.

Hydrogen

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Unlike many fuels which produce carbon compounds in energy generation, the only by-products of hydrogen upon combustion are energy and water, although the generation of hydrogen can produce emissions.

The creation of green hydrogen through renewable energy-powered electrolysis is another option, but due to relatively low demand for the technology, it is currently more expensive at scale than SMR with CCUS.

Our twin track approach prioritises both green and blue hydrogen and means the UK will have a large-scale supply of low-cost, low-carbon hydrogen available to the market sooner than other countries.

In August 2021, we launched our National Hydrogen Strategy, alongside consultations on hydrogen business models, a Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, and low-carbon hydrogen standards.

Hydrogen will play an increasingly important role in achieving Clean Growth around the world, and the depth of the UK’s experience in the production of catalysers and hydrogen fuel cells, as well as its capabilities across the breadth of hydrogen applications, make us an attractive proposition as both a supplier and partner in the development and implementation is this key sustainable energy sector.

Thanks to our early adoption of new, more sustainable means of generating energy, we are a leader in the decommissioning, diversification and recommissioning of old methods of energy generation – both the hardware and infrastructures.

Clean growth: energy transition, decommissioning, diversification and repurposing

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Sustainability is a target in all aspects of the energy transition to achieving Net Zero emissions, and that includes the existing technologies, machinery, and infrastructures that new, cleaner methods of energy generation are replacing.

To explore the potential value that the decommissioning of outdated methods of energy generation around the world presents to UK businesses and how we could help you capitalise on the growing number of opportunities that are being created, visit Great.gov.uk.