Hydrogen is considered the great hope of decarbonisation in all sectors that cannot be electrified, e.g. industrial manufacturing, aviation and shipping. Massive investments in the expansion of renewable energy are needed to enable carbon-neutral hydrogen production. After all, wind, solar and hydroelectric power form the basis of climate-friendly hydrogen.
In its quest for climate-friendly hydrogen production, the AquaVentus initiative has set its sights on one renewable energy generation technology: offshore wind. The initiative aims to use electricity from offshore wind farms to operate electrolysers also installed at sea on an industrial scale. Plans envisage setting up electrolysis units in the North Sea with a total capacity of 10 gigawatts by 2035, enough to produce 1 million metric tons of green hydrogen.
Heligoland, the only German island at high sea, will serve as a main hub. It will be the point of departure of the hydrogen's journey via a central collector pipeline to terra firma. Among the AquaVentus cooperation partners alongside RWE are the Island of Heligoland, Reuther, Vattenfall, Shell, Gasunie, Siemens, Parkwind and MHI Vestas.
The project family surrounding the AquaVentus initiative includes numerous sub-projects along the value chain from hydrogen production in the North Sea to transport to buyers on shore. These projects, which will dovetail each other, will synchronise demand and production, enabling the required market ramp-up. The initiative will establish the required framework conditions by the end of 2022.
One of the first pilot projects is dedicated to installing two innovative hydrogen wind turbines off the coast of Heligoland. This involves integrating the electrolyser into the base of the turbine tower. These 2x14 megawatt units will be connected to the grid via a pipeline. The test run is in preparation for series manufacturing, and the turbines will supply Heligoland with hydrogen when they enter into normal operating mode.
Hydrogen production at high sea
- Electricity from offshore wind farms is converted to hydrogen.
- Hydrogen is also produced at high sea, directly at the wind turbines or in the immediate vicinity of the wind farms.
- The green hydrogen is transported to Heligoland via pipelines.
Potential applications and elements of hydrogen infrastructure
- Start with two innovative hydrogen offshore wind turbines (2x14 megawatt electrolysers).
- Island of Heligoland as hydrogen hub.
- Hydrogen is transported from Heligoland to the mainland via a central collector.
- A share of the hydrogen is retained for use on the island and in shipping.