OIL and gas giant BP is set to play a key role in the development of a low-carbon hydrogen energy hub which could become the first of its kind in Scotland.

The company has been appointed preferred bidder to be Aberdeen City Council’s commercial partner in a plan that councillors reckon will accelerate the city’s ambitions to become a world-class hydrogen hub. It is expected that the hub would help to reduce emissions in Aberdeen significantly while providing a big boost to the city’s economy.

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The first phase of the hub will involve the development of a plant that will produce what is known as green hydrogen from water and will be powered by renewable energy. The output from the plant could use be used to power buses, heavy gods vehicles and vans as an alternative to diesel, which is seen as a relatively high emission fuel.

The council is targeting 2024 for the start of operations.

It expects the hub could be expanded to produce enough fuel to meet the requirements of energy intensive industries such as shipping and for use in heating. The council noted the potential to develop an export business.

Aberdeen City Council Leader, Councillor Jenny Laing said the announcement was huge for Aberdeen and paved the way for the city to be a world leader in the production of hydrogen-based green fuel and energy.

She observed: “It will help create a cleaner, more sustainable city for local people and it also provides us with the opportunity to create hundreds of skilled jobs and add millions to the Aberdeen economy.”

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Ms Laing said the hub could tap into the deep-rooted skills and experience in the energy sector in the Aberdeen area, which is home to many North Sea oil and gas industry firms.

BP is one a range of oil and gas firms that have set out to reinvent themselves as broad energy sector players amid concern about the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change. It bid for windfarm acreage in the recent ScotWind leasing round.

Louise Kingham, BP’s UK head of country, said: “BP wants to play a leading role in Scotland’s energy transition as is evidenced by this news and our transformational bid in the ScotWind offshore wind leasing round.” BP’s decades of operations in the North Sea have left it with vast skills and experience that are directly transferable to emerging energy industries.

The update on the Aberdeen hydrogen hub plan was provided as Glasgow prepares to welcome global leaders for the COP26 climate summit which will be held in the city.