A study undertaken by DNV, commissioned by infrastructure system operators Gascade and Fluxys, has revealed the importance of offshore hydrogen production in Europe’s future energy mix. The sector is likely to play a key role, both as a means of decarbonisation but also to boost the region’s energy security, the research found.
The DNV study, which found that offshore hydrogen production connected by pipeline is cheaper than onshore production, identified scope to combine production from several offshore wind farms and pipe the hydrogen ashore as an energy carrier.
This would be cheaper than electricity and would become a comparatively more favourable option over greater distances, the DNV research concluded. The study described the potential energy generation from offshore wind in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea as ‘immense’, and possibly greater than that which the electricity system alone can handle.
Gascade managing director, Ulrich Benterbusch, noted: "The EU expects demand for climate-neutral hydrogen to reach 2,000 terawatt hours (TWh) by 2050, and DNV sees the potential to produce 300 TWh of hydrogen using electricity from offshore wind farms in the North Sea by 2050. This would make a significant contribution to reducing dependence on energy imports.
"This positive aspect for increasing supply security can hardly be valued highly enough after the experiences of the recent past," he added.
One of the study’s authors, Claas Hülsen, DNV’s Regional Advisory Business Development director for Energy Systems, said: "What we see is that areas located over 100km from the coastline offer lower levelised costs of production. At this distance, it costs more per energy unit to transport electricity than to carry hydrogen via pipeline."
Different transport infrastructure is likely to be required in the North and Baltic Seas. For the former, a large area exceeds the 100-km threshold and therefore a meshed pipeline system could be used to connect offshore production sites to the onshore network.
However, in the Baltic Sea, fewer areas meet the 100-km criterion. But large-scale offshore hydrogen production by Sweden and Finland, for example, could be transported to European demand centres possibly using a combined pipeline network.
DNV study reveals offshore hydrogen potential