Offshore wind-to-hydrogen for Europe’s clean energy demand

Offshore wind-to-hydrogen for Europe's clean energy demand

Hydrogen: The Key to a Greener Future


Hydrogen is quickly becoming a crucial component in the race to decarbonize our energy sources. When burned, hydrogen produces zero greenhouse gas emissions, making it an ideal solution for a cleaner future. However, the transition to a renewable hydrogen economy faces several challenges. Green hydrogen, produced through electrolysis using renewable energy, currently only accounts for about 1% of global production and is significantly more expensive than its grey counterpart, which is produced from fossil fuels.

One of the main hurdles in scaling up green hydrogen production is the availability of vast amounts of renewable energy and water. This is where offshore wind-to-hydrogen projects come into play. By connecting high-capacity floating wind turbines to electrolysers that utilize seawater, these projects aim to overcome the challenges of deploying offshore wind farms and bringing the energy to shore. Stéphane Le Berre, offshore project manager at renewable hydrogen producer Lhyfe, explains that this solution eliminates the need for expensive electric substations and cables, as the electricity is converted to hydrogen and transported through existing pipelines in the North Sea.

Founded in 2017 by Matthieu Guesné, Lhyfe is a Nantes-based company that aims to become a “green unicorn” by avoiding a billion tonnes of CO2 emissions. Lhyfe started producing hydrogen as a means to address another aspect of global warming: the oxygen depletion of the oceans. Through their electrolysis process, they also produce oxygen as a by-product, which they plan to pump back into the sea to help restore the balance of marine ecosystems impacted by climate change.

In September of last year, Lhyfe inaugurated the world’s first offshore renewable hydrogen production pilot site. Called Sealhyfe, this 1MW demonstrator project, located off the coast of Le Croisic, France, has been producing half a tonne of hydrogen per day. It is connected to the SEM-REV powerhub, Europe’s first floating wind farm and site for multi-technology offshore testing. The success of Sealhyfe will inform future offshore projects, including HOPE, a 10MW project coordinated by Lhyfe and eight other partners, which aims to produce up to four tonnes of green hydrogen per day by 2026.

Lhyfe’s achievements are not isolated, as several other offshore wind-to-hydrogen production projects are also taking shape across Europe. One such project is H2Mare, led by Siemens Energy and Siemens Gamesa, which aims to generate hydrogen close to coastal demand centers, cutting transportation costs. Siemens has invested €120mn into the project, which will test the financial viability and best configuration for offshore wind-to-hydrogen production.

Europe, having learned from falling behind on battery technology, is now actively investing in hydrogen. The German and Dutch governments have designated areas for offshore hydrogen production, and Germany has set a target of generating 30MW of offshore wind power by 2030. However, industry leaders are pushing for more ambitious targets, urging the German government to add an additional 10GW of offshore hydrogen production by 2035 to the national strategy. Europe as a whole is aiming to produce 10 million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030, with hydrogen potentially making up 14% of the energy mix by 2050.

With significant investments and support from the European Commission, the future of green hydrogen looks promising. Startups building electrolysers and developing hydrogen-powered transportation stand to benefit from this industry support, propelling them towards a cleaner-burning future. As we harness the power of hydrogen, we move closer to achieving a greener, more sustainable world.