Why we need to combine floating offshore wind and green hydrogen production
by Anne Haase, Renewables Director, Aquaterra Energy
Last winter, wildly fluctuating access to gas had an acute impact on energy poverty. However, for many global citizens, energy poverty is a daily struggle. In fact, 840 million people live without access to electricity, and hundreds of millions more experience frequent outages. We need a vast supply of affordable renewable electricity to extend access to the world’s unserved and underserved population. Could green hydrogen production coupled with floating offshore wind be the panacea?
From demonstration project to panacea
Green hydrogen production using electricity from floating offshore wind unlocks huge swathes of ocean acreage, and it can be shipped, making it almost globally exportable. It can also give a second life to existing oil and gas infrastructure. Altogether, the potential for floating offshore wind with green hydrogen is huge.
As such, there are already several small demonstration projects globally, and Italy, with its central location in the Mediterranean, is ideally situated to become a hub for the hydrogen trade. By 2050, Italy is targeting for green hydrogen to account for 20% of national energy consumption.
Supportive regulations and licensing frameworks
Given the complexity of today’s political and regulatory landscape, green hydrogen production projects are taking anything from seven to ten years to progress from inception through to operation. To ensure green hydrogen can contribute to the world’s journey to net zero, this process needs to be slimmed down and sped up.
With no clear permitting or licensing framework in the UK, existing demonstration projects have ambled their way through. Recognising the need to address this barrier, a Hydrogen Regulators Forum has been established to determine current and future non-economic regulatory responsibilities across the hydrogen value chain.
The case is similar in Italy, although there is a regulatory framework for hydrogen produced using fossil fuels, revisions are required to accommodate green hydrogen production. Key considerations include the transportation of green hydrogen, in addition to technical specifications around injection and network pressure.
Modular and future proofed designs
With many oil and gas assets beginning to reach the end of their life, the green hydrogen industry has some 50 years of installation and operation learnings to lean on. By bringing all this together, we could feasibly be designing and installing green hydrogen assets that are still operating in 2100.
Bringing its offshore energy engineering expertise to bear is what Aquaterra Energy will now do with Seawind Ocean Technology. Together we are developing HyMed, which will be the world’s largest floating offshore wind and green hydrogen production asset. The project will have a total 3.2GW capacity, with more than 1GW allocated to produce green hydrogen. At over 300km offshore, the site will float in ultra-deep waters, nearly 2,900 metres above the seabed.
A template for the future
From the very start, we have set out for this to act as a template for future green hydrogen production. For the template to be globally applicable, the design must be practicably executable in a broad range of locations. The simple solution is to build smaller minimalist green hydrogen modules that can be rapidly manufactured, transported and assembled by small yards and minimal facilities.
To achieve this, Aquaterra Energy will use its years of learnings from delivering adaptable and modular platform solutions. Sea Swift has been used by operators all over the world to solve complex field development challenges and scenarios, all whilst reducing capex, emissions, and time to production. By applying the same intelligent engineering expertise to address key offshore green hydrogen challenges, the team will further future proof the design for years to come.
Achieving the vision
Floating offshore wind with green hydrogen will be the marvel of our time and could viably be the only way for the world to achieve SDG7 – access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all – by 2030. The benefits of modular design have been proven again and again, it’s time we brought it to bear for green hydrogen.
Click here to learn more about our green hydrogen offering.