Project Director: Stuart Dawley (Newcastle University)
Project Duration: 2023-2024
Since its construction in the 1960s, the Bacton terminal has become a critical energy infrastructure asset for the UK. Bacton provides 20% of national gas supplies, harnesses a range of South North Sea gas fields, serves two dual flow gas European interconnectors and provides operations for global energy giants Shell and Perenco. Despite being at the heart of carbon intensive energy supplies for over 60 years, the UK’s Net Zero 2050 targets offer an opportunity to convert Bacton into a regional and national low-carbon infrastructural asset. Utilizing both blue and green hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, Bacton has the potential to become a leading infrastructure hub that plays a major role in the UK’s energy future.
The point of departure for this research proposal, and its overall objective, is to examine the opportunities and challenges for North Norfolk in harnessing and valorising Bacton as an infrastructural asset within the UK’s broader energy transition. Whilst the bourgeoning offshore wind sector off the coast of East Anglia has brought relatively limited economic and community development to North Norfolk, can the geographically rooted and material nature of the Bacton gas terminal infrastructure stimulate a new and qualitatively different path of development? Existing work on Bacton’s trajectory provides an optimistic outlook, but this work tends to focus on engineering dimensions alongside quantitative projections and forecasts. In response, our proposed research seeks to better understand North Norfolk’s ‘place’ within the emerging visions and discourses of Bacton’s role in the energy transition. In other words, this pilot project seeks to assess the extent to which the energy transition can make Bacton a development for rather than simply in North Norfolk.
The project team also includes Dr Gareth Powells, (Newcastle University) and Dr Markus Steen (SINTEF Digital).