Offshore electrolyser systems can make green hydrogen competitive
In Europe, offshore wind power has become very costs-effective in recent years. Energy companies have now been exploring whether hydrogen can be produced offshore by using wind energy and seawater. If the concept has turned commercially viable, it will underpin wind farms margins and make green hydrogen competitive against natural gas.
In 2020, Nexstep, the Dutch association for decommissioning and reuse, and TNO, the Netherlands organisation for applied scientific research started the world first offshore green hydrogen project called PosHYdon in the Dutch North Sea. The project aimed to produce green hydrogen using wind power. Since then, other companies have also now joined the project. In December 2020, Norway’s NEL Hydrogen was awarded to deliver the project’s offshore electrolysis system. The electrolysis system will be installed on Neptune’s Q13a-A platform. The offshore hydrogen plant will use power from the wind turbines to demineralise the seawater for hydrogen production. The project is expected to start production in late 2021.
Recently, there have been further developments, and a few more companies spearheaded to explore the offshore hydrogen industry. A consortium, named Oyster, formed by Orsted, Siemens Gamesa, ITM Power, and Element Energy has won a EUR 5 million (US$ 6.1 million) funding to explore the operation of an integrated wind turbine and electrolyser system to produce green hydrogen in a marine environment. Oyster received the funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking (FCH2-JU), a public-private partnership of the European Commission. The project will test the compact electrolyser system, integrated into a single offshore wind turbine. One of the goals would be to use the plant to process seawater for the electrolysis process.
Another consortium led by TechnipFMC is also working on a similar pilot project known as Deep Purple, in Norway. The consortium includes Vattenfall, Repsol, ABB, NEL, DNV GL, UMOE and Slattland. In January 2021, Innovation Norway has granted EUR 9 million (US$ 11 million) to the project. The project aims to use offshore wind energy to produce green hydrogen and store the hydrogen on the seabed.