Photo: Ørsted

Ørsted unveils plans for large offshore wind-to-hydrogen project

Ørsted has unveiled plans for the development of one of the world’s largest renewable hydrogen plants, powered by offshore wind, which would be linked to industrial demand in the Netherlands and Belgium.

The project, named SeaH2Land and planned to be built by 2030, would comprise a renewable hydrogen production facility of 1 GW connected directly to a new 2 GW offshore wind farm in the Dutch North Sea. The offshore wind farm could be built in one of the zones in the southern part of the Dutch exclusive economic zone that has already been designated for offshore wind development, Ørsted said.

The GW-scale electrolysis would then be linked to the large industrial demand in the Dutch-Flemish North Sea Port cluster through an envisaged regional cross-border pipeline.

With 580,000 tonnes per year, the cluster is one of the largest production and demand centres of fossil hydrogen in Europe today, according to Ørsted. Driven by decarbonisation efforts, industrial demand in the cluster could grow to about 1,000,000 tonnes by 2050, equivalent to roughly 10 GW of electrolysis.

If realised, SeaH2Land could convert about 20 per cent of the current hydrogen consumption in the region to green hydrogen.

The major industrial companies in the region – ArcelorMittal, Yara, Dow Benelux, and Zeeland Refinery – support the development of the required regional infrastructure to enable sustainably-produced steel, ammonia, ethylene, and fuels in the future.

United in the Smart Delta Resources (SDR) industry partnership, the industrial players in the region will continue the dialogue with TSOs for the development of a regional open-access pipeline network of about 45 kilometres, stretching across the North Sea Port area from Vlissingen-Oost in the Netherlands to Gent in Belgium.

Subject to a regulatory framework being in place, the regional network will unlock the first phase of SeaH2Land, which comprises 500 MW of electrolyser capacity. The second phase, which scales the electrolyser capacity to 1 GW, will require the possibility to connect to a national hydrogen backbone, providing additional flexibility and storage.

Several locations north and south of the river Scheldt have been identified for GW-scale electrolysis. In the meantime, several projects are being developed in the region on the sites of industrial players, such as Zeeland Refinery’s envisaged 150 MW electrolyser, which are also to be connected to the network.

This is not Ørsted’s first green hydrogen project. In January, the company reached a final investment decision (FID) on the H2RES demonstration project in Denmark, where first hydrogen production is expected in late 2021. H2RES, to be built at Avedøre Holme in Copenhagen, will comprise a 2 MW electrolysis plant with appurtenant hydrogen storage, with the production powered by Ørsted’s two Siemens Gamesa 3.6 MW offshore wind turbines at the Avedøre Power Station.

In November 2020, the offshore wind developer and the multinational oil and gas major BP entered into an agreement to jointly develop a potential large-scale renewable hydrogen project powered by offshore wind in Germany. The project, planned to be operational in 2024, would comprise a 50 MW electrolyser system installed at BP’s Lingen Refinery in North West Germany. The electrolyser, powered by an Ørsted North Sea offshore wind farm, would be capable of generating almost 9,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen a year.

At the beginning of this year, Ørsted, together with Siemens Gamesa, ITM Power, and Element Energy, was awarded € 5 million in funding to demonstrate and investigate a combined wind turbine and electrolyser system designed for operation in marine environments.