Offshore Hydrogen Production on its Way to Mature: A Perspective of Optimism

Offshore electrolyse will be crucial ingredient of north European decarbonization and this industry is on a good path. Offshore wind growth potential in the North Sea, the economic premise to maximize utilization of electrolyser capacity, requirements of Renewable Energy Directive 2 (RED2) and increasing overload of power grids along the coasts, underpin the solution. Drawing on this historical parallel, if we apply a similar developmental pace to hydrogen technology, we could anticipate substantial advancements by the decade's end, offering a hopeful outlook.

Two decades ago, offshore wind emerged from pilot plants to first commercial scale wind farms and the industry grew and matured. Just eight years later LCoE started tumbling and made offshore competitive to onshore wind. This mature wind technology provides the lion part of the installation of the offshore hydrogen production. As the pipeline part is also a mature technology, remaining development needs focus on large scale installation of offshore electrolysers. Therefore, it is anticipated that the development of these remaining components, including the large-scale installation of offshore electrolysers and the advancement of floating platforms, will progress more rapidly than the historical development pace observed in the offshore wind sector.

The foundation for offshore hydrogen production is establishing itself along North Sea’s coasts, with offshore electrolysers concepts transitioning to reality. Despite a lag in public perception relative to the actual technological advancements, the necessary components and expertise for large-scale offshore hydrogen production are poised for deployment.

Addressing the maturity of these components and their readiness for widespread implementation requires further exploration. It is here we see the need to delve into specific topics or hints that illustrate the advancement of these components, which will be the focus of forthcoming articles.

The task of scaling up offshore hydrogen production presents significant complexity, though compared with the nascent stages of offshore wind projects in UK, DK, and Germany, follows a promising role model. The transition to widespread implementation by the end of this decade may be more achievable than initially perceived and North Sea stands as a beacon for gigawatt-scale expansion in renewable energy in vicinity to major European consumption centres.

These potential fuels the mission of AquaConsult. AquaConsult's concentration of expertise in and around offshore wind energy and hydrogen production stands for the synergy between these two technologies. This collaborative framework bundles, as Origination & Development, Engineering, Procurement, Construction & Installation up to Operation, are ready to leverage the North Sea's unique benefits to catalyse innovation and growth.

In summary, the journey towards a decarbonised future through offshore wind and hydrogen production seems feasible. Yet, the strategic collaboration of industry experts and the supportive backdrop of progressive policy measures in Germany and the Netherlands carve path forward that could be perceived more optimistic. AquaConsult, along with the broader energy sector, is committed to harness the complementary strengths of offshore wind and onshore hydrogen technologies. In the following articles, AquaConsult experts will follow this mission and present aspects and insights of this emerging solution.

The Author:

Meiko Neumann is a distinguished figure in the renewable energy sector, currently serving on the management team of cruh21 GmbH since August 2022. With a rich background spanning 12 years in offshore wind development across Germany, the UK, NL and Taiwan, Neumann brings to the table extensive experience in critical areas such as permitting, grid connection security, auctions, engineering, supply chain, and innovation management. A testament to his success as project director of the Kaskasi Offshore Wind Farm (OWF) project, which stood out in the second German grid auction and was commissioned in 2022. With an eye towards the future, Neumann is eager to replicate his offshore wind achievements in the growing hydrogen market.


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