Energy transition

Tracking the Energy Transition: Top Ten Green Energy Billionaires, the Transfer of Offshore Skills, and Hydrogen Continues To Rise

For some, the payoff for going green can be astronomical. Others can rest assured that they will be well positioned in the transition.

electric car SUV charging at home in front of modern low energy suburban house
Credit: Sven Loeffler/Getty Images/iStockphoto.

Are you trying to stay up to date about developments aimed at energy-transition efforts in our industry? This roundup of news recaps some recent announcements.

Green Energy Billionaires
While the oil and gas industry may not yet be profiting from the energy transition, a number of individuals are. According to Forbes, as of April, there were 34 billionaires throughout the world whose fortunes stem from clean energy. Here are the top 10.

NameCitizenshipNet Worth ($)Source of Wealth
Elon MuskUS180.6 billionElectric vehicles
Robin ZengHong Kong31.5 billionLithium-ion batteries*
Huang ShilinChina14.2 billionLithium-ion batteries*
Li ZhenguoChina9.7 billionSolar wafers and modules
Pei ZhenhuaChina8.3 billionLithium-ion batteries*
Aloys WobbenGermany6.9 billionWind turbines
Denis SverdlovRussia6.8 billionElectric vehicles
He XiaopengChina6.4 billionElectric vehicles
Li PingHong Kong6.4 billionLithium-ion batteries*
Lin JianhuaChina6.0 billionHangzhou first applied material

*Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited, which has produced four of 2021’s top ten green-energy billionaires, is one of the world’s largest suppliers of electric vehicle batteries. Clients include BMW, Volkswagen, and Geely.

UK Oil and Gas Workforce Can Transition
More than 90% of the UK’s oil and gas workers are well positioned to work in adjacent energy sectors as the industry decarbonizes, according to a report by Scotland’s Robert Gordon University. The UK Offshore Energy Workforce Transferability Review found that around 80% of future jobs in the UK offshore energy sector will be in nine key areas that have a high degree of overlap with the existing workforce: operations; technicians; engineering; projects; business development and marketing; procurement; finance; human resources; and health, safety, sustainability, and environment. According to the report, around 200,000 jobs are likely to be needed in the 2030 decarbonized workforce vs. around 160,000 jobs today.

Don’t Be Shocked
Electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining ground.

  • Volkswagen pledged to halt sales of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in Europe by 2035.
  • Ford has said it will only sell EVs in Europe by 2030.
  • Volvo said it is retiring the ICE engine and hybrids by 2030.
  • Honda announced plans to phase out gas-powered cars by 2040.
  • Stellantis said it is no longer planning to invest in the development of new internal combustion engines.
  • General Motors has said it will stop building polluting vehicles by 2035.

The European Commission's revised Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation will require member states to expand charging capacity in line with zero-emission car sales and to install charging and fueling points at regular intervals on major highways: every 60 km for electric charging and every 150 km for hydrogen refueling, says the European Commission.

You’ll Need GPS for This Roadmap
The European Union’s climate plan—the Fit for 55 package—is named for its goal of cutting emissions at least 55% from 1990s levels by 2030. The 3,500-plus-page plan lays out a roadmap that includes expanding what is already the world’s biggest carbon market, putting a price on shipping and aviation emissions, and banning the sale of new ICE cars. It boosts the EU’s target for solar and wind energy and seeks to make sure buildings are better insulated. But will it be enough to reach climate goals? An $85-billion fund will be set up to help vulnerable households and businesses cope with energy price increases.

Bidding for Offshore Wind
Eni has entered a 50/50 partnership with Scottish offshore wind developer Red Rock for a joint bid for the ScotWind offshore leasing round with the support of transmission company Transmission Investment. The companies also will target other future renewable opportunities in Scotland, combining their wind farm development and offshore experience.

BP and EnBW also submitted their bid for acreage in the leasing round. The consortium has applied for a lease area off the east coast of Scotland that could support offshore wind projects with a generating capacity of 2.9 GW. But the companies say their bid seeks to go far beyond developing wind power to include Scotland’s EV network, green hydrogen, shipbuilding, and reskilling. Aberdeen would become BP’s global center of excellence for offshore wind.

Greenlighting Green Hydrogen
Green infrastructure developer Cerulean Winds has signed an agreement with px Group, the UK’s leading operator of large-scale industrial facilities, for an integrated 200-turbine floating wind and hydrogen development in the UK sector of the North Sea that could generate 3 GW of power—enough to electrify the majority of offshore facilities while reducing CO2 emissions by more than half from 2025.

In the Dutch North Sea, UK independent Neptune Energy will host the world’s first offshore green hydrogen project on an operational oil or gas platform to validate the integration of offshore wind, gas and hydrogen. The PosHYdon offshore green hydrogen pilot project will be hosted on the Q13a-A platform off the coast of Scheveningen in The Hague. Electricity generated by offshore wind turbines will power the hydrogen plant on the platform, converting seawater into demineralized water then into hydrogen via electrolysis. The aim is to gain experience of integrating working energy systems at sea and the production of hydrogen in an offshore environment. The efficiency of an electrolyzer with a variable supply from offshore wind will also be tested, and knowledge and insights will be obtained on the costs of installation and maintenance. The green hydrogen will be mixed with the gas and transported via the existing gas pipeline to the coast.

Elsewhere, in Itlay, Saipem has launched SUISO, a technological solution for offshore production of green hydrogen and conversion of oil and gas facilities. The technology, which combines floating wind, floating solar, and marine energy, will initially be deployed at the proposed Adriatic Green Network of Energy Sources—or, AGNES—project in the Adriatic Sea. SUISO combines various renewable energy sources such as floating wind, floating solar, and marine energy in a single system. The aim is to power, together or individually, electrolyzers installed on existing offshore platforms to produce green hydrogen. Saipem said that the technology “responds to the growing demand for green hydrogen production” and, at the same time, allows the conversion of oil and gas offshore facilities that have now reached the end of their life cycle. SUISO will be deployed on the AGNES project, the offshore energy hub that Saipem, in partnership with QINT’X, intends to build.

German developer Svevind Energy and Kazakh Invest National Company have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to plan and develop megascale green hydrogen production facilities in western and central Kazakhstan. The construction and commissioning phases are predicted to take approximately 10 years. Svevind plans to install wind and solar farms with a combined capacity of 45 GW in the region. The green electricity will then feed 30 GW of electrolyzers to produce approximately 3 mtpa of green hydrogen that will be either exported to Eurasian markets or used domestically for industrial products.

Finally, Baker Hughes will provide advanced compression technology for the NEOM smart city project in Saudi Arabia. The $5-billion green hydrogen production facility will be jointly owned by Air Products, ACWA Power, and NEOM.

Blue H2
Baker Hughes’ NovaLT16 turbines will be used to supply hydrogen compression and gas turbine technology for Air Products’ new net-zero hydro-energy complex in Edmonton, Alberta. The complex will capture more than 95% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) from natural gas feedstock and store it underground. The CO2 will be transported via the 240-km-long Alberta Carbon trunk line, which can transport up to 14.6 mtpa of the substance.

Shell subsidiary Norske Shell has entered an MOU with Aker Clean Hydrogen and CapeOmega to develop, build, and operate a large-scale clean hydrogen hub on Norway’s northwestern coast. The proposed Akura hydrogen hub would specifically target support for maritime hydrogen hubs, which is one ambition of Norway’s hydrogen roadmap. It would produce blue hydrogen that could be used to decarbonize regional industrial processes; to provide emission-free fuel for marine and road transportation; and be exported to hydrogen consumers elsewhere in Europe. As part of the agreement, Norske Shell would supply the planned Akura hydrogen hub natural gas that is produced from the Shell-operated Ormen Lange deepwater field off Norway and processed at a natural gas processing plant and export hub in Aukra, for which Norske Shell serves as technical service provider.

Hydrogen Storage
Equinor and Scottish energy company SSE are working together to develop what could become one of the world’s largest hydrogen storage facilities. The two plan to use SSE’s existing Aldbrough gas storage facility on the east Yorkshire coast in the UK to store low-carbon hydrogen as early as 2028. The site comprises nine huge underground salt caverns. To store hydrogen, those caverns could be converted or caverns could be purpose-built. Initial expected capacity is at least 320 GWh.