Energy

Big energy partners join Shell's giant NortH2 wind-to-hydrogen project

Big energy partners join Shell...
The NortH2 wind-to-hydrogen project will use a 10-gigawatt offshore wind farm to power an electrolysis plant for the production of clean hydrogen
The NortH2 wind-to-hydrogen project will use a 10-gigawatt offshore wind farm to power an electrolysis plant for the production of clean hydrogen
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The NortH2 project aims to place a huge 10-GW offshore wind facility in the North Sea, feeding an electrolysis plant that will send clean hydrogen out through the Netherlands and Germany
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The NortH2 project aims to place a huge 10-GW offshore wind facility in the North Sea, feeding an electrolysis plant that will send clean hydrogen out through the Netherlands and Germany
The NortH2 wind-to-hydrogen project will use a 10-gigawatt offshore wind farm to power an electrolysis plant for the production of clean hydrogen
2/2
The NortH2 wind-to-hydrogen project will use a 10-gigawatt offshore wind farm to power an electrolysis plant for the production of clean hydrogen

Oil giant Shell is planning the biggest wind-to-hydrogen project in Europe, a colossal 10-gigawatt offshore wind farm in the North Sea feeding a massive electrolysis plant on dry land that'll pump out a million tonnes of clean H2 a year by 2040.

The NortH2 project will be located on the North coast of the Netherlands, and by the time it reaches that kind of output, it'll be reducing emissions by the same amount as shutting down every combustion vehicle in Norway.

Started in conjunction with Dutch natural gas company Gasunie and Groningen Seaports, it will eventually dwarf the 3.6-gigawatt Dogger Bank offshore wind generation project in the United Kingdom, with 4 GW of capacity in 2030 being ramped up to 10 or more over the following decade.

Gasunie's existing natural gas pipeline infrastructure will come in very handy. It'll allow large-scale transport and storage of the hydrogen produced, which will primarily feed industrial clusters in the Netherlands and Germany, with smaller amounts going to transport, mobility and domestic uses.

The NortH2 project aims to place a huge 10-GW offshore wind facility in the North Sea, feeding an electrolysis plant that will send clean hydrogen out through the Netherlands and Germany
The NortH2 project aims to place a huge 10-GW offshore wind facility in the North Sea, feeding an electrolysis plant that will send clean hydrogen out through the Netherlands and Germany

Norwegian oil and gas company Equinor, as well as German-headquartered multinational energy company RWE, have now joined the project, a huge decarbonization push that aims to displace dirty coal- and gas-based hydrogen production and make a big contribution to the European Union's climate targets for 2030 and beyond.

These kinds of grand-scale operations will be essential in the drive to get clean hydrogen down to a cost where it can compete both with dirty hydrogen and with fossil fuels. They will require massive offshore wind turbines, even bigger than the 85-storey high GE Haliade-X goliaths currently being deployed at cutting-edge large-scale projects, as well as significant advances in bulk water splitting electrolysis.

Source: Equinor

5 comments
FB36
Hydrogen gas is even more dangerous than natural gas, because it is explosive!
So, storing & distributing hydrogen gas, especially at large scale, is extremely dangerous!
Who can guarantee there will be never any leaks/raptures to trigger a massive explosion?
(That is also why using hydrogen for any land/sea/air vehicle is also a very very bad idea!)

Why not store the energy simply using a large battery plant??? (Australia is using Tesla battery plant(s), for example!)
ukij
The brilliant thing about hydrogen is that it can be used in fuel cells, in a natural gas/hydrogen blend for domestic heating, but also as the base chemical in creating synthetic fuels, so yes, it's explosive, but once you have it, it can be used in so many ways. a 70/30 gas/hydrogen blend goes along the same pipes and into people's homes, it can be used at source to make petrol and diesel etc... and distributed in the same way as those fuels are now. Distributing for use in vehicle fuel cells is admittedly a little more dangerous, but no more so than other volatiles. Our near term future is not all electric, and may not be for decades. Liquid and gaseous fuels work very well, the infrastructure is in place and is safe, and everyone who wants one has a home boiler that can burn a gas blend, and/or a car or bike that runs on petrol or diesel. Given those fuels can be made in a carbon neutral process with the green hydrogen, we're then in a world where all we should be concerned about is how clean the emissions are, not that they're happening. Green hydrogen is ace.
michael_dowling
H2 needs mixing air to be explosive,just like every other fuel. As the lightest element,H2 does not pool like gasoline fumes,which means leaks dissipate quickly. What I am more concerned with is efficiencies. H2 can be electrolyzed with 80% efficiency,but if you want to store it,you have to compress it,and your efficiencies drop by about 40%. They don't talk about how H2 can embrittle metal- steel can develop tiny cracks,and burst in some cases. Batteries are expensive,and not really a solution for large scale power storage,because producing them means competing with battery production for other uses,such as EVs- there is only so much manufacturing capacity available.
skierpage
@ukij, mixing green hydrogen with natural gas is not decarbonization, it's a dumb idea that prolongs natural gas. Green hydrogen requires Gigawatts of electrolyzers and 2.5 times as much renewable electricity than if you used the electricity directly, so it's always going to be the expensive option, so it will only be used to decarbonize the parts renewables can't reach. Homes and businesses should rip out the gas connection and replace boilers and heaters with more efficient electric heat pumps; land transportation will go battery electric. That still leaves large demands for 100% green hydrogen for chemical processes and probably long-term energy storage.
ukij
@skierpage No you're absolutely right, green Hydrogen and natural gas is not decarbonisation but it represents a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions. That's a good gain and we should be looking for good, not perfect. Perfect isn't possible right now and won't be for decades. Converting every home to pure Hydrogen boilers will take a very very long time but that shouldn't stop short-medium term solutions. Same with synthetic fuels. It will be many many decades before EV's are commonplace. In the UK alone there are 40m vehicles yet as of 2019 only 160k were EVs and another 350k hybrids. They are owned by early adopters and the wealthy. The other 99% of vehicle owners will continue to run their vehicles for years, and cars last 20-30 years now so we have to accept another interim solution. Synthfuels could/should be that, removing the need to make 100s of millions of new EVs that people can't afford to buy. There is a future but there are steps to get there and anyone demonising petrol and diesel now is missing the point. We simply can't remove ICE vehicles from the road without replacing them, and we can't afford to replace them. The next best option is carbon-neutral petrol and diesel etc...