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Editorial comment

BP’s recent announcement that it is setting out an ambitious new plan to become a net zero company by 2050 or sooner is another example of the energy transition that is set to take place in the decades to come. The company’s new CEO, Bernard Looney, has set out 10 key aims for the future, five of which are to get BP to net zero, and the other five to help the world achieve net zero. Looney said: “Trillions of dollars will need to be invested in replumbing and rewiring the world’s energy system. It will require nothing short of reimagining energy as we know it.”

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The storage sector will be at the heart of the transformation that Looney envisages. The Tank Storage Association (TSA) recently published a report outlining the key role that the bulk liquid storage sector and associated logistics will play in the energy transition as the UK government attempts to achieve its decarbonisation targets, including a 57% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050 (against a 1990 baseline). In the report, entitled ‘Enabling the energy transition – the role of the bulk liquid storage sector’, the TSA notes that in order to meet these ambitious targets, there will be changes in energy generation, industrial processes, transport, buildings and heat.1 This will require significant investment in enabling infrastructure, as well as collaboration and partnership. Peter Davidson, Executive Director of TSA, writes: “As essential energy partners, we are determined to up the ante and ensure that our sector can support and facilitate access to the broad mix of energy solutions that will be necessary to succeed.”

The TSA outlines a number of ways that the bulk liquid storage sector can help with the energy transition, including: by supporting access and provision of traditional and alternative energy solutions using existing infrastructure; creating the flexibility to manage change and accommodate the integration of new energy alternatives; ensuring that critical bulk liquid products continue to flow efficiently to meet demand; helping to balance demand for legacy liquids; and providing expert advice, innovation and product testing.

The report concludes with five key recommendations as the next phase of the energy transition approaches. Firstly, it outlines the importance of working together, in partnership with industry, to seize opportunities for a responsive, flexible and robust bulk liquid storage sector. It also suggests that the energy transition should advance in parallel with required changes in bulk liquid infrastructure. Thirdly, it recommends setting clearly defined transition paths and realistic timelines to enable a stable landscape for long-term investments and avoiding delays caused by the lack of new transitional national infrastructure. It also stresses the importance of ensuring that policies are coherent and supportive of the broad range of solutions necessary to succeed, while adopting a technology neutral approach. Finally, the report recommends that industry is empowered by facilitating dialogue, cooperation and knowledge transfer in the area of safety, in the context of alternative energy solutions.

  1. ‘Enabling the energy transition – the role of the bulk liquid storage sector’, Tank Storage Association, (January 2020),

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