UK and Belgium sign pioneering agreement on decarbonising gas infrastructure

0
23145
Jon Butterworth, CEO of National Gas (left) and Pascal de Buck, CEO and managing director of Fluxys Belgium pictured at the agreement signing event at the UK embassy in Brussels.

First UK-Belgium cross-border transmission agreement on large-scale decarbonised gas networks marks 25 years of North Sea interconnection.

The British and Belgian gas transmission networks have signed a pioneering agreement which enables collaboration on decarbonising gas infrastructure, developing carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) and harnessing North Sea energy resources such as offshore wind and hydrogen production.

Celebrating 25 years of operation of the gas Interconnector between the UK and Belgium at the UK embassy in Brussels with UK energy minister Andrew Bowie and Belgian minister for energy Tinne Van der Straeten, the British and Belgian gas infrastructure partners National Gas and Fluxys Belgium signed a memorandum of understanding to step up their cooperation on decarbonisation infrastructure and supporting CCUS.

The MoU between National Gas and Fluxys helps to put flesh on the bones of April’s Ostend declaration at the North Sea summit between transmission system operators from north-west European countries. National Gas and Fluxys Belgium have already worked in harness to secure energy resilience via the gas Interconnector between Norfolk and Zeebrugge, which is marking 25 years of operation this year.

Looking to the future, Fluxys Belgium is developing large-scale hydrogen and CO2 corridors for transport in and through Belgium. Meanwhile in Great Britain, National Gas has initiated Project Union to connect hydrogen production sources to end users across power and industrial sectors. It is also involved in the Scottish Cluster, a collection of industrial carbon capture and CO2 transportation and storage infrastructure projects.

As supported by the recent UK National Infrastructure Assessment, hydrogen will also be essential to the resilience of future power generation and storage in Britain and will be instrumental in decarbonising industry on both sides of the North Sea. In accordance with the MoU, Fluxys Belgium and National Gas will explore the benefits of a hydrogen link between their respective infrastructures, unlocking North Sea hydrogen for mainland Europe.

Based on their existing strong relationship and sharing the same strategy to play a key role in decarbonisation of industry and society, both partners will combine their complementarities, expertise and common vision to develop large-scale, long-distance hydrogen transport. They will also explore the possibility to extend their collaboration to CCU (carbon capture and utilisation) and CCS (carbon capture and storage).

UK energy minister Andrew Bowie said: “This agreement between the British and Belgian national gas transmission networks will provide the essential infrastructure for transporting hydrogen and build on 25 years of collaboration to bolster the UK and Europe’s energy security for the coming decades.”

Belgian minister for energy Tinne Vander Straeten said: “We celebrate a significant milestone in Belgian-UK relations – a silver jubilee marking 25 years of collaboration through the interconnector and a five-year celebration for Nemo Link, the first submarine power cable between our two countries. It is a reflection on the past but also a testament to the forward-looking cooperation that will shape the next chapters of our energy ties. And the future looks promising. The agreement between Fluxys Belgium and National Gas marks a significant stride forward in crucial hydrogen and CO2 infrastructure. It fosters a collaborative synergy that transcends national borders and integrates the unique strengths of the UK and Belgium.”

Jon Butterworth, CEO of National Gas, said: “For the critical British businesses that we serve, this agreement with Fluxys will help to secure their future and fuel growth and innovation. We have all the components of a world-leading hydrogen industry, and through Project Union we have the capability to connect hydrogen production and storage with end users through a hydrogen network of up to 2,000km – equivalent to 25% of Britain’s current methane transmission network.”

Pascal de Buck, CEO and managing director of Fluxys Belgium, said: “Multiple strong partnerships are essential in our focus area of developing open-access infrastructure. We see an array of opportunities in pushing up our cooperation with National Gas for the development of infrastructure to further connect both markets in a decarbonised world, creating a hydrogen link between our systems and possibly other options for achieving large-scale decarbonisation.”