Hydrogen islands in the North Sea

Artificial island for hydrogen production and distribution
Artificial island for hydrogen production and distribution, © TenneT

Connecting offshore wind farms to the public grid is still fraught with problems. The main challenge is how to transmit the large amounts of energy generated in the North and Baltic Sea to the coast, since the lines have not yet been adapted to the task.

As a result, many stakeholders in the sector are exploring alternative ways to make sensible and efficient use of wind power in their regions.

Hydrogenics

Transmission network operator TenneT has recently suggested building artificial islands off the North Sea coast. These islands could then be used to put up electrolyzers or methanation systems powered by wind energy. The company said that following the construction of offshore wind farms, it now aimed to promote green hydrogen production to facilitate the creation of long-term storage solutions and renewable industrial and transportation sectors.

In 2018, Wilfried Breuer, COO of TenneT, told energate, “We think that using only electricity to decarburize the energy system will take too much effort and be too expensive.” In his view, producing hydrogen, and synthetic methane, and transporting it through the existing gas pipeline system from the north to the south of Germany was the cheaper solution. “We’ve run the numbers. At EUR 50 for one metric ton of carbon dioxide, renewable hydrogen becomes economically viable,” he said. However, Breuer left the company this month.

Constructing the North Sea Wind Power Hub, as Dutch parent company Tennet Holding calls it, is no longer just an idea on the drawing board. As early as 2016, the business gave a presentation on the outlines of the project. In the meantime, TenneT Germany and TenneT Netherlands have set up a partnership with Energinet, Gasunie and Rotterdam’s port operator to come up with a plan to build one or several hubs in the North Sea. Industrial corporations, such as Tata Steel, are likewise pushing for hydrogen, for example, as a replacement for the coke they use in steelmaking.

read more in H2-international April 2019

1 thought on “Hydrogen islands in the North Sea

  1. Synthesizing Natural Gas from H2 is a good approach, as it is less volatile than pure hydrogen, thereby safer for storage & transportation.

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