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Offshore Wind’s role in clean hydrogen production; a key enabler – OTC


Today, at the Offshore Hydrogen: Path to Net-Zero table, part of the 2021 Offshore Technology Conference, experts on the development of clean hydrogen shared their perspectives regarding the potentialities of offshore wind use in this process.

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According to the experts, the opportunities are many, and traditional oil and offshore gas infrastructure could play a significant role in this transformation.

Initiatives by DOE

To start, Eric Miller, Senior Advisor with the U.S. Department of Energy, talked about the H2@scale initiatives the department is encouraging to expanding the use of clean hydrogen; particularly, to decarbonize multiple sectors.

Accordingly, Miller talked about the Hydrogen Shot, announced by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm back in June. Indeed, this is the first of several energy Earthshot initiatives to address several environmental challenges not only nationally but worldwide. Thus, the main goal of this initiative is to set a $1 price for 1kg of hydrogen for one decade.

Moreover, the advisor noted that the clean hydrogen the U.S. is producing today comes primarily from natural gas, with significant CO2 emissions. Therefore, offshore wind for electrolysis to produce clean hydrogen is crucial.

Indeed, DOE is very excited about the potential of offshore wind in clean hydrogen production. The US has the goal of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030, Miller shared.

“This is pretty exciting because it is a resource that we have in our nation. In fact, you’ll see it is a resource very difficult to reutilize because it is so difficult to access. Hence, one of the things that hydrogen offers is this opportunity to transform these electrons; particularly, from wind, into chemical bonds such as hydrogen. Therefore, there’s an opportunity there for more economical storage and transport of that energy. It is kind of an enabler for offshore energy.”

Unique benefits of offshore wind in clean hydrogen

Accordingly, DOE is currently assessing the potentialities of different ways of transforming offshore wind into liquid hydrogen (for offshore and onshore purposes); specifically, always keeping in mind cost-efficiency, safety, and economic sense.

In summary, Miller noted that H2 production from Offshore wind offers unique benefits in terms of large-scale energy storage and transport. Besides, it provides technical and economic challenges remain in optimizing integrated energy systems with OSW and H2.

Lastly, he noted that technical and economic modeling with responsible validation is helping to de-risk investments. Additionally, global demonstration and deployments projects offer critical lessons learned for economies of scale, safety, etc.

Initiatives by companies – Repsol and Shell

Following Miller, Jaime Martin Nuez, Director of Technology and Corporate Venturing with Repsol, said low-carbon hydrogen is not expected to become competitive by 2030. Besides, the industry will require some incentives for its development.

Per his participation, Martin added that along the whole H2 supply chain, some conventional wisdom needs to be challenged. Therefore, Repsol aims to maintain a fully integrated vision from renewables to final use

Similarly, Ajay Mehta, Delivery Manager with Shell International E&P Inc, shared how Shell retains a holistic approach in the energy transition. Thus, it promotes a fundamental change in how energy is produced and consumed. That includes accelerating clean technologies, improving energy efficiency and use of low-carbon fuels, and removing carbon emissions.

Therefore, Mehta shared that the company is creating a clean hydrogen market to primarily serve industry and heavy-duty transport. Additionally, it looks after integrated renewable power and hydrogen supply through digitalization and smart turbines.

Air Liquide’s approach

On the other hand, David Edwards, Hydrogen Energy Advocate with Air Liquide Hydrogen Energy, talked more about the present rather than the future; particularly, where we are now with respect to hydrogen development in the energy transition.

Thus, Edwards shared the role of hydrogen in Air Liquide’s portfolio is very important. Hence, Air Liquide is planning to more than triple its Hydrogen Market by 2025. Accordingly, he talked about three critical clean hydrogen projects Air Liquide developed.

The Northeast, Becancour, QC project in production since December. Currently, it’s the world’s largest operating PEM Electrolyzer. Also, the Western US North Las Vegas, NV project is Air Liquide’s first production facility dedicated to the Mobility Market. Lastly, Beaumont TX is  the largest hydrogen storage facility in the world:, and it’s been online for more than five years

Indeed, the current status of the hydrogen industry in the Gulf Coast today represents enough hydrogen to fuel every car registered in Texas (4,000 MMSCFD – 10,000 ton/Day). It includes 1300 miles of H2 pipelines, $5B-$8B invested, and 25 GW of equivalent electrolysis hydrogen production.

The North Sea case

Finally, Rene Peters, Business Director Gas Technology, TNO, showcased one of the offshore hydrogen projects in the North Sea; the POSHYDON or the Project for Offshore Hydrogen Production.

Particularly, it aims to determine the costs of offshore hydrogen production compared to onshore. Also, to assess the performance of offshore hydrogen production, learn about admixing hydrogen with natural gas and all the related safety aspects.

Accordingly, Dr. Peters recommended making smart combinations of offshore wind and oil & gas, particularly by re-using existing infrastructure, reducing cost, and accelerating the transition. Thus, the company will leverage platform electrification, co2 storage, offshore hydrogen production, and H2 transport.

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