The ORION (Opportunity Renewable Integration Offshore Networks) project was launched in April 2020 to transform Shetland into the home of secure and affordable clean energy. ORION’s focus is to use Shetland’s onshore and offshore wind, ports and industry facilities, tidal & wave energy and oil & gas and marine expertise, built over the last 50 years, to generate affordable clean heat and power, sustain and develop new jobs and deliver diverse economic growth for Shetland, Scotland and the UK, for decades to come. Building on this foundation the ambition of ORION is threefold:
- Enable offshore oil & gas sector transition to net zero by electrification, utilizing initially onshore and then 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.
- Create on Shetland a green hydrogen export business at industrial scale by harnessing offshore wind power and creating new jobs. Locally on Shetland these ambitions translate into a number of local targets:
- To have Shetland producing wind-powered green hydrogen by 2025
- To reduce emissions and become net-zero by 2030
- To sustain and create 500 net zero jobs by 2030
- To create a healthy, diversified economy for Shetland by 2035
The Shetland region has all the critical ingredients of clean energy provision, significant onshore & offshore wind and tidal resource, strategically important current and future hydrocarbon resource, established oil & gas infrastructure for use and re-use and a knowledgeable and skilled local workforce. ORION aims to optimise these resources for local, regional, and national benefits. Energy from onshore wind and tidal power will enable the production of green hydrogen on Shetland which will meet the majority of local demand while the production of green hydrogen at industrial scale on Shetland will require offshore floating wind to be developed in the region. At present ORION is a partnership between Shetland Islands Council, OGTC, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the University of Strathclyde with support from a number of companies which include BP, EnQuest, Equinor, Hitachi ABB Power Grids, Siccar Point Energy, SSE, Shell and TOTAL in the form of guidance, resource and financing of studies.