The ORION (Opportunity Renewables Integration Offshore Networks) project was initiated in April 2020 with Shetland Island Council (SIC) and the Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) working together in partnership with HIE and industry. An industry steering group was established with BP, EnQuest, Equinor, Shell, SSE & TOTAL. Strathclyde University joined ORION as a strategic partner in 2Q 2021, and Siccar Point Energy has now joined the steering group.

The ambition of the project is to use the unique natural assets in the Shetland region to create a world-leading clean energy hub, generate affordable clean heat and power, sustain, and develop new jobs, and deliver diverse economic growth for Shetland, Scotland, and UK for decades to come. ORION has all the critical ingredients of clean energy provision, significant wind resource, strategically important current and future hydrocarbon resource, established infrastructure for use and re-use and a knowledgeable and skilled local workforce.

The USP of the project is threefold:-

  • Enable offshore oil & gas sector to transition to net zero by electrification, utilizing initially onshore wind and then floating offshore wind, sustaining thousands of jobs & security of supply.
  • Transform Shetland’s current dependency on fossil fuels to affordable renewable energy to address fuel poverty and improve community wealth.
  • Produce on Shetland a green hydrogen at industrial scale for local use and export by harnessing onshore and offshore wind resource and creating new jobs.

The ORION project has set several ambitious targets namely abating 8mT/year of CO2 from offshore oil & gas production, supplying 32TWh of low carbon hydrogen annually, which is 12% of UK expected requirement, and generating more than 3GW of wind, all by 2050. The annual revenue generated by the project by 2050 would be in the order of £5Bn per annum and provide sustainable employment, both locally and regionally, for 1750 people.

The project is currently at a stage where a number of industry sponsored studies are in the process of being initiated such as a supply chain led ORION & NE Scotland techno-economic screening study and a Strathclyde University led onshore Shetland power system study. The UK Islands Growth Deal has set aside provisionally £5m to support the establishment of three green H2 pilot projects on Shetland and the ORION project have also requested funding form the Scottish Government Energy transition Fund (ETF) to support feasibility and concept studies. The ORION project is truly transformational, on both a local and regional scale, firmly placing Shetland to be one of the first clean energy islands in the UK.