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World first: Green hydrogen production in the North Sea

The North Sea is the first place in the world where a pilot project to build an offshore hydrogen plant is planned. Neptune Energy’s Q13a oil and gas platform, located more than ten kilometres off the coast of The Hague, will house a plant that will produce green hydrogen from sustainable electricity that is generated by the wind. TNO worked on the concept within North Sea energy programme and will carry out the test programme. This is the first step towards large scale hydrogen production on the North Sea.

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In addition to Neptune, TNO and NexStep there are 11 partners in the project

Funding granted

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) has awarded a demonstration energy and climate innovation funding of 3,6 million to the PosHYdon project. With this fund the consortium can finally start up all activities for this pilot. The remaining costs will be borne by the fourteen consortium partners.

Systemintegration Dutch North Sea

PosHYdon seeks to validate the integration of three energy systems in the Dutch North Sea: offshore wind, offshore gas and offshore hydrogen and will involve the installation of hydrogen-producing plant on the Neptune Energy-operated Q13A platform. This fully electrified platform in the Dutch North Sea, located approximately 13 kilometres off the coast of Scheveningen (The Hague).

The cooperation and the results of the PosHydon project will teach us a lot about the next steps that need to be taken towards safe, large-scale green hydrogen production at sea. Think of the dynamic behavior of a hydrogen production installation that is linked to wind farms at sea. In addition, we gain knowledge and insight into the costs of installing and maintaining hydrogen production at sea.

Cheaper transport

Hydrogen is an alternative to the use of natural gas in industrial processes, which currently produce a large amount of CO2 emissions. In the long run, hydrogen will also be used as a fuel for heavy transport by road, water and possibly even air. On top of this, hydrogen can be stored as an energy carrier to prevent overloading of the electricity grid at peak times. Offshore wind generates electricity that can be converted to hydrogen via the electrolysis of seawater and transported via existing gas pipelines. Transporting these hydrogen molecules is much cheaper than transporting electrons via new electricity cables from wind farms on the North Sea to land.

A second life for platforms

As the construction of offshore wind farms continues at a sustained pace and they move further and further away from the coast, it’s important to investigate the most robust and inexpensive ways to get the electricity generated there to land. In the long run, offshore wind should be our main source of sustainable energy, even greater than onshore wind, solar, geothermal and biomass.

There are more birds to kill with one stone: the North Sea is home to many platforms that have reached the end of their lifespan and need to be demolished, and there are also numerous gas pipelines. These can now have a second life before being permanently disposed of.

Many winners

If the pilot succeeds, there will be many winners. TenneT can bring wind-generated electricity from the sea to land requiring less investment in expensive cables and other electricity infrastructure. Hydrogen can be  partially transported through the existing pipelines. The owners of the platforms have the prospect of a new business case now that gas production at sea is ending in many places. Manufacturers of electrolysers – devices that split water into water and oxygen, but which are currently used exclusively on land – will develop a new generation to be used at sea.

Nextep's Jacqueline Vaassen and TNO's Rene Peters TNO on stage to collect the Innovation of the Year Award at the Awards of Excellence ball, 3 December 2019.

The PosHYdon project has received the Innovation of the Year Award at the 2019 Awards of Excellence, organised by the Oil & Gas Council. The PosHYdon project was announced as an 'exciting move that highlights the global shift toward alternative energy technologies' and 'an extremely promising new path for platform development.'

Unique in the world

In this pilot, TNO is working closely with both the platform operators and the manufacturers. The conditions for producing sustainable hydrogen at sea are very different to those on land: long distances, salt water, strong winds, more wear and tear, higher installation costs and more expensive maintenance. On the other hand, major cost advantages can be expected in the transport and storage of wind energy on a large scale. It will be of interest to both parties to innovatively transform these disadvantages into a profitable activity.

TNO provides knowledge on sensors and data communication to allow the installations to operate remotely and without staff on process technology, offshore operations, measurement technology, safety and energy systems. These complex issues have been tested in practice in a coordinated manner. This project can also serve as a springboard for energy islands at sea where hydrogen production is also planned.

Huge environmental benefits

The pilot plant, which will be built on the Neptune platform should be operational in 2022, will have a capacity of one megawatt. This might seem small, but if the methodology and technology devised by TNO work, nothing will stand in the way of scaling it up. Plus, the environmental benefits are huge: each sustainably-produced kilogram of hydrogen saves ten kilograms of CO2 when compared to the hydrogen produced from natural gas.

Consortium Partner

The following partners have joined the PosHYdon consortium: NEL Hydrogen, InVesta, Hatenboer, IV-Offshore & Energy and Emerson Automation Solutions. Nexstep, TNO, Neptune Energy, Gasunie, Noordgastransport, NOGAT, DEME Offshore, TAQA and Eneco joined this group last year already. Partners in the Q13a-A platform: Neptune Energy (operator and 50%), EBN B.V. (40%) and TAQA Offshore B.V. (10%).

Knowledge

From grey and blue to green hydrogen

Production from water via electrolysis with sustainable electricity from sun and wind is a CO2-free alternative. But for the production of green hydrogen, there are still technological barriers to be... Read more
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Optimising production of sustainable hydrogen with electrolysis

Hydrogen currently produced in our country is mainly used as a raw material for the production of fertilisers and the desulphurisation of fuels. Current hydrogen production is now based on natural gas... Read more
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Large-scale hydrogen storage and transport

With the strong expansion of the number of offshore wind farms in the coming decade to a capacity of 11.5 gigawatts in 2030, large-scale storage and transport of the generated energy in the form of hydrogen... Read more
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Hydrogen as raw material for industry and fuel transport

Industry uses huge amounts of hydrogen for the production of ammonia, various plastics and refining. But because the hydrogen is made from natural gas, a lot of CO2 is released. Green hydrogen produced... Read more
Contact

Dr. ir. René Peters

  • Hydrogen
  • Gas
  • LNG
  • Transition
  • Offshore Energy

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