The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking (FCH2-JU), a public private partnership of the European Commission, has awarded the consortium behind the OYSTER project, €5 million ($6.1 million) funding to investigate the feasibility of combining an offshore wind turbine directly with an electrolyser and transporting renewable hydrogen to shore.
The consortium, consisting of ITM Power, Ørsted, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, and Element Energy, will develop and test a megawatt-scale fully marinised electrolyser in a shoreside pilot trial.
To realise the potential of offshore hydrogen production, there is a need for compact electrolysis systems that can withstand harsh offshore environments. These systems must have minimal maintenance requirements while still meeting cost and performance targets that will allow the production of low-cost hydrogen. The project will provide a major advance towards this aim.
The electrolyser system will be designed to be compact, to allow it to be integrated with a single offshore wind turbine, and to follow the turbine’s production profile. Furthermore, the electrolyser system will integrate desalination and water treatment processes, making it possible to use seawater as a feedstock for the electrolysis process.
The OYSTER project partners share a vision of hydrogen being produced from offshore wind at a cost that is competitive with natural gas (with a realistic carbon tax), thus unlocking bulk markets for green hydrogen making a meaningful impact on CO2 emissions, and facilitating the transition to a fully renewable energy system in Europe.
This project is a key first step on the path to developing a commercial offshore hydrogen production industry and will demonstrate innovative solutions with significant potential in Europe and beyond.
The project is planned to start in 2021 and run to the end of 2024.
ITM Power is responsible for the development of the electrolyser system and the electrolyser trials, while Ørsted will lead the offshore deployment analysis, the feasibility study of future physical offshore electrolyser deployments, and support ITM Power in the design of the electrolyser system for marinisation and testing. Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and Element Energy are providing technical and project expertise.
Bart Biebuyck, executive director, Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), said: “The OYSTER project is a very exciting addition to the FCH JU pallet of electrolysis projects that will allow the development of an offshore-spec electrolyser for green hydrogen to be generated in the harsh offshore environment. The aim is the optimal integration of electrolysers with offshore wind turbines to store the energy generated in the form of hydrogen. We are absolutely delighted to support this innovative project which reduces the environmental impact in further industrial applications.”
Michael Dolman, associate director at Element Energy, said: “Offshore wind is now one of the lowest cost forms of electricity generation in Europe and will have an important role in Europe’s decarbonisation plans. There is growing interest in transporting renewable energy in the form of hydrogen, particularly for sites far from shore. Realising such a vision will require further development and innovations of the type to be demonstrated in the OYSTER project, which Element Energy is pleased to coordinate.”