Researchers are looking at sustainable ways to tap into the “significant reserves” of a vital energy source locked up under the surface of the waters surrounding the UK.

Glasgow Caledonian University academics have secured almost £100,000 funding from the Net Zero Technology Centre to develop methods that will unlock pools of hydrocarbon located on the UK Continental Shelf in a more environmentally friendly way.

Hydrocarbon exploration (or oil and gas exploration) is the search by petroleum geologists and geophysicists for deposits of hydrocarbons, particularly petroleum and natural gas, in the Earth using petroleum geology.

Project lead, Dr Ahmed Aboushady, said: “This project is needed to help make subsea hydrocarbon production in UK waters greener and more sustainable, achieving net-zero emissions. We will produce a concept design to find the appropriate energy mix that meets technical, economic and environmental constraints for net-zero-emission subsea hydrocarbon production.

“In five to six years, and with the help of our industrial partners, energy giant Equinor and technology developers Hitachi-ABB and EC-OG, we will be expected to have a field trial of what is believed to be the first submerged power hub in the UK, powered completely by a green technology mix and operating autonomously with no connections to shore.

“This is an incremental step towards global efforts to act on climate change, where people can benefit from continued use of hydrocarbons for energy and heat for decades to come, but in an eco-friendly manner.”