How are we going to deliver the zero-carbon energy transition that our world needs? Green hydrogen and offshore wind energy will be key elements. At Tractebel, we are engineering solutions that combine offshore wind farms with hydrogen technology – delivering a major breakthrough to fuel your zero-carbon transition.
Blowing towards a hybrid
Tractebel is known for leading expertise in both wind and hydrogen technology. Our engineers are continually evaluating data and trends, looking for innovative opportunities to collaborate across disciplines. During our work, we identified two emerging developments in favour of a hybrid solution combining both wind and hydrogen technology.
First, meeting the anticipated demand for carbon-neutral hydrogen requires electrolysis capacities in the gigawatt (GW) range. For Germany alone, studies forecast demand between 130 and 275 GW by 2050. Offshore wind is the only renewable energy source that can supply at least part of this additional electricity demand. The possibilities are exciting. In the European North Sea, the potential for offshore wind exceeds 630 GW.
Second, offshore wind farms are installed increasingly far from the coast, requiring expensive and long cables to connect to power grids. With the ability to produce hydrogen power onsite, these farms could absorb 100 percent of the electricity output. This could make wind farms completely independent from the electric grid, meaning no more need for expensive cables and the possibility of even farther ranging installations offshore.
Combining engineering expertise
Our teams went to work and engineered a breakthrough solution: producing hydrogen directly offshore on a 400 MW platform near the wind farms themselves.
The heart of the platform is the electrolysis system, which uses direct current electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The offshore platform hosts the complete balance of plant equipment for gas and water handling, cooling and medium-voltage electricity conversion. Watch the video here.
Hydrogen can be piped to shore via subsea pipelines. Industrial use, however, requires securing a steady baseload of hydrogen flow. In Europe, where the ENGIE group has conducted extensive research, underground salt caverns are ideally suited for this storage. Our experts are scouting more locations for offshore hydrogen production in the UK, the Netherlands and the United States among other target countries.
Our teams are also exploring additional promising forms of transport. Chemical carriers such as ammonia could enable the transport of green energy on tank vessels. This could spur a global trade in hydrogen energy. Liquefied hydrogen and Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carriers (LOHC) are also emerging as exciting possibilities.
The flexibility of offshore hydrogen production offers compelling use cases. The platform could be designed to absorb 100 percent of the electricity output, making it completely independent from the electric grid. No more need for expensive and long cables.
It could also operate in hybrid mode with only a certain share of electricity output for hydrogen production and the remaining transported via electric cables. This would improve the efficiency of the complete offshore energy system – saving costs and offering flexibility for wind farm operators and transmission grid operators.
Cost and carbon savings
Tractebel’s solution could significantly save on cost and carbon emissions. Since all the required equipment is centralised at sea, operators can produce large quantities of green hydrogen at a competitive price. Maintenance is far more efficient, and the modular design enables more flexible operations and scale.
How much green hydrogen energy are we talking about? Enough to fuel more than 229,000 cars or 8,000 buses for one year! Since hydrogen production is carbon neutral, this saves 300,000 tons of carbon emissions a year.
I personally think that offshore hydrogen production can play an important role in the energy transition. When talking to colleagues and presenting this topic to public audiences, I see that the concept attracts lots of interest – both from technical and economic perspectives. For sure we need to take many difficult steps to master the energy transition. This is one step – let’s push forward to bring this concept to life!
Come meet us
The wind is truly blowing in favour of hydrogen power from offshore wind farms. Come meet us in person to talk about this exciting breakthrough at upcoming conferences in Germany.