Wind turbines in the North Sea near Germany might generate one million tons of hydrogen. This ambitious proposal involves over 100 German corporations investing over 10 billion euros.
Hydrogen will support a greener economy, according to scientists and lawmakers. Federal hydrogen policy was adopted in 2020. The government promotes green hydrogen, even though hydrogen is colorless. Renewable energy electricity produces this.
Germany collaborates for green hydrogen. Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Namibia, Congo, South Africa, and Angola supply the basic materials. These countries have ample space for photovoltaic systems, wind turbines, and (sea) water. Green hydrogen requires simply these two ingredients.
Ideal conditions don’t require a long view. “What Saudi Arabia has in oil, we have in the North Sea,” says Urs Wahl. AquaVentus network spokesperson. Over 100 German firms are producing green hydrogen in the North Sea and piping it to the coast.
Technically, “wind-to-hydrogen” works. Offshore wind turbines with a desalination plant and electrolyser at their base are used for this. He splits water into hydrogen and oxygen using windmill electricity. Oxygen is the sole exhaust gas, which can be discharged locally. Hydrogen from the wind generators is directly piped to the coast. Its energy can be utilised there. Wahl exclaims, “Hydrogen is greenest.”
Steel and chemical companies would buy North Sea hydrogen first. Electric blast furnaces are excessively complicated and expensive. Hydrogen can maintain high temperatures generated largely with natural gas in a climate-friendly manner. For its factories in Salzgitter, Lower Saxony, Salzgitter AG established a wind farm with seven turbines in 2020 to manufacture green hydrogen.
North Sea potential is greater. AquaVentus intends to deploy 10 gigawatts by 2035. That exceeds all German offshore wind turbines. For this, over 700 plants would produce one million tons of green hydrogen every year. Hydrogen generation would use all wind turbine electricity. Experts estimate that Germany will need more than a million tons of hydrogen, although North Sea wind turbines could help. Compared: Germany’s steel sector would need 2.2 million tons of hydrogen in 2050, according to governmental estimates. European steel sector switches to climate-friendly raw material with 5.5 million tons.
North Sea wind-to-hydrogen has two further benefits: First, “duckbill” wind farms would likely be built. This is Germany’s exclusive economic zone’s beak. About 300 kilometers from the coast. Cables are too expensive to make wind turbines feasible here. Hydrogen pipelines are simpler to build. The second benefit is that Entenschnabel production would produce its own electricity, eliminating the need for German electricity supply capacities.
Heligoland is building a prototype. From 2025, the tower will manufacture and pipe hydrogen to the island. AquaPrimus fits the project. Island ferry traffic and district heating will use 2500 tons of hydrogen per year. Hydrogen delivery by ship to Hamburg has been postponed. Heligoland’s Mayor Jörg Singer is one of AquaVentus’ founders and a huge supporter.
The North Sea is good for wind-to-hydrogen because: First, many areas have sea depths of 60 meters or less. Windy too. Wind turbines can be installed on a huge area far from the mainland. Wahl finds Germany’s other coastline location unsuitable for wind-to-hydrogen.
Finland, Sweden, and Denmark are exploring a Baltic Sea pipeline project like AquaVentus. Other North Sea countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, and Great Britain are also contemplating it. Except for the latter, EU and German federal governments support relevant projects. Wahl believes a pipeline network in the two northern seas could import and export hydrogen as needed.
Wind-to-hydrogen is receiving worldwide support. The US is experimenting more in the Gulf of Mexico and on its east and west coasts. Japan, Taiwan, and Canada are similarly affected. As usual, China leads in quantity. In October, the southern city of Chaozhou plans to erect 43.3 gigawatt wind turbines off its coast by 2027, five times Germany’s sea-generated power. However, China’s government has instructed provinces and municipalities to consider coastal hydrogen production.
He believes Germany may lead wind-to-hydrogen technology. AquaVentus aims to do this. Ideally, Germany would develop and build the wind turbine, electrolyzer, and pipeline.