As Scotland and the rest of the world transition to renewable energy sources to tackle the climate crisis, the pipeline of floating offshore wind projects continues to grow, with many tens of gigawatts of renewable power due to be generated in the coming decades. Yet, almost 80% of Scotland’s energy comes from oil and gas. Regardless of political will, oil and gas production and consumption are likely to remain vital for a while longer.

As we transition to renewable energy as quickly as possible, we face the challenge of reducing carbon emissions from an energy system that still includes a significant proportion of oil and gas. Electrifying offshore oil and gas platforms from electricity generated by floating offshore wind farms offers the solution, supporting lower carbon emissions offshore as well as significant potential to deliver energy security through power back to the National Grid.

With power accounting for around 70% of all offshore oil and gas emissions, supplying these platforms with renewable electricity generated by floating offshore wind farms will enable operators to fulfil their energy needs while producing oil and gas with a much lower carbon footprint. By replacing polluting gas turbines with clean energy, the industry can make a valuable contribution to Scotland’s 2045 net zero target while these wind farms can generate cheaper, greener electricity for millions of Scottish consumers, accelerating the energy transition.

Through the North Sea Transition Deal, the UK Government and the UK’s offshore oil and gas sector have committed to halving offshore emissions by the end of the decade. This target can only be achieved with platform electrification.

However, legislation may allow oil and gas asset owners to hook directly into the grid and bypass offshore wind development. Greater electricity demand on the grid would increase prices further, risking national energy security. Meanwhile, electrifying platforms through floating offshore wind would provide power directly to platforms, enabling much greater emissions cuts, while delivering many gigawatts of surplus power back to the grid.

With UK offshore oil and gas operators having already indicated a strong appetite for decarbonisation, the Government must now incentivise platform electrification via floating wind rather than the grid. Otherwise, Scotland risks losing its competitive advantage as a global leader in floating offshore wind while missing an opportunity to provide a just transition for thousands of oil and gas workers who have the critical skills needed to build and operate floating offshore wind farms.

By partnering with offshore wind developers to electrify platforms, the oil and gas sector can capitalise on the expertise and synergies within the growing floating wind industry. Delivering renewable energy to several platforms at once offers an economical solution, eliminating the need to electrify individual assets.

By decarbonising offshore oil and gas assets, we can advance the energy transition and reach net zero while developing cheaper, cleaner, domestic sources of energy that safeguard energy security.

Barry MacLeod is General Manager, Flotation Energy