Sustainable Energy

Orsted to link a huge offshore wind farm to 'renewable' hydrogen production

Share
Key Points
  • The last few years have seen a number of businesses take an interest in projects connected to "renewable" hydrogen.
  • Described by the International Energy Agency as a "versatile energy carrier," hydrogen can be produced in several ways.
This photograph shows turbines at the Borkum Riffgrund 2 wind farm, which Orsted owns 50% of.
CharlieChesvick | iStock Unreleased | Getty Images

Danish energy company Orsted wants to construct a large-scale offshore wind farm in the North Sea and link it to so-called "renewable" hydrogen production on the European mainland, with the project garnering support from several major industrial firms. 

Under the proposals, which were outlined on Wednesday, Orsted would develop a 2 gigawatt (GW) offshore wind facility and 1 GW of electrolyzer capacity, with the company claiming its plans would result in "one of the world's largest renewable hydrogen plants to be linked to industrial demand."

The SeaH2Land development — which is supported by companies including ArcelorMittal, Yara and Dow — would also include 45 kilometers of hydrogen pipelines between Belgium and the Netherlands.

The electrolyzer part of the project — to be built in two 500 megawatt phases — would use electricity from the wind farm to produce hydrogen.

Among other things, partners involved in the development need to undertake a full feasibility study of SeaH2Land, while Orsted has yet to take a final investment decision. If all goes smoothly and the project gets the green light, however, both portions of the electrolyzer could be up and running by 2030.

"As the world looks to decarbonise, it's paramount that we act now to secure the long-term competitiveness of European industry in a green economy," Martin Neubert, Orsted's chief commercial officer, said in a statement.

Described by the International Energy Agency as a "versatile energy carrier," hydrogen has a diverse range of applications and can be produced in a number of ways.

One method includes using electrolysis, with an electric current splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen. If the electricity used in the process comes from a renewable source such as wind or solar then some describe it as "green" or "renewable" hydrogen.

The last few years have seen a number of businesses take an interest in projects connected to renewable hydrogen, while major economies such as the European Union have laid out plans to install at least 40 GW of renewable hydrogen electrolyzers by 2030.

In March, a major green hydrogen facility in Germany started operations. The "WindH2" project, as it's known, involves German steel giant Salzgitter, E.ON subsidiary Avacon and Linde, a firm specializing in engineering and industrial gases.

Elsewhere, a subsidiary of multinational building materials firm HeidelbergCement has worked with researchers from Swansea University to install and operate a green hydrogen demonstration unit at a site in the U.K.

The interest in hydrogen is not restricted to Europe. In a speech last November, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country was proposing to launch what he described as "a comprehensive National Hydrogen Energy Mission."

Presenting the country's budget earlier this year, Nirmala Sitharaman, India's finance minister, referenced Modi's announcement, adding: "It is now proposed to launch a Hydrogen Energy Mission in 2021-22 for generating hydrogen from green power sources."

The planet's third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, India's attempt to embrace hydrogen and other renewable technologies — it's targeting 450 GW of renewable capacity by 2030 — would, if fully realized, represent a significant shift for the country.