How can an offshore oil platform be used to generate clean, green hydrogen? It’s possible. Hydrogen energy is a promising source of renewable energy that can transform the world. It does this by using excess wind energy as well as pre-existing infrastructure. Find out more about these exciting new possibilities.
Hydrogen is an odorless and colorless gas that forms part of a water molecules. It is slowly becoming a more convenient fuel. It can be stored either as a liquid or compressed gas. This makes it a versatile fuel that can be used for everything, from plastic production to the powering of cars’ internal combustion engines.
How is hydrogen made, how does it matter and what are the potential benefits to the industry?
Hydrogen Production: How it is produced matters a lot
The energy required to produce hydrogen (H2) is provided by fossil fuels. These fossil fuels can be used to create steam for the reaction of natural gas with hydrogen to make hydrogen. However, they also produce a lot CO2.
However, wind energy has been proven to be a more sustainable and cost-effective alternative and is increasing in use as part of the energy transition.
Production via natural gas (“grey hydrocarbon”) releases significant amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However, it is not produced via wind energy and so is entitled to the name “green hydrogen”.
Although most hydrogen is grey at the moment, there are many options for decarbonization. This includes industries such as transportation where other renewable resources have not yet made a significant impact.
To create green hydrogen, electrolysers split water into oxygen and hydrogen via renewable energy. This hydrogen can be used for industrial purposes or as an energy source in the transportation sector.
Electrolyser H2 Production schematic
Power generation and green hydrogen: Taking advantage of excess wind power
Another powerful advantage of green hydrogen is its ability to store electricity from renewable sources such as wind energy for future use.
It works in this way: Wind energy must be reduced when it is too abundant. This is not ideal as energy supply equipment can only work reliably and best when there is a steady flow.
The creation of hydrogen from wind energy is clean and can be done without causing any disruption to the supply chain. The power generated can be used for H2 production and storage when energy demand is low (e.g., at night, weekends, and holidays). This allows wind energy to be stored for longer periods in large quantities.
This allows energy systems to be more flexible and even out the demand for power, preventing over- or under-generation.
The green hydrogen production opens up new opportunities for utilizing pre-existing infrastructure in innovative and novel ways. This will be our next topic.
PosHYdon Project: Using Oil Rigs To Create Green Hydrogen
Many innovative European projects are exploring new ways to make green hydrogen.
A pilot project in the Netherlands to produce green hydrogen from an offshore oil platform in North Sea is being implemented. This is a first in renewable energies. This pilot was created to get experience in hydrogen production at offshore locations and to test the idea of using existing offshore infrastructure in new, sustainable ways.
The pilot, named “PosHYdon”, will incorporate three components of offshore energy.
- Offshore wind
- Offshore natural gas
- Offshore hydrogen gas
What is the process? It still functions as an oil-and-natural gas producer. The platform also receives its production energy from an offshore wind farm. The platform has a hydrogen electrolyzer installed. It is currently powered by green electricity from the land (converting seawater into hydrogen), but it will eventually use the same offshore wind energy. In preparation for this, power fluctuations and fluctuating energy levels will be simulated.
The pilot uses an existing offshore oil platform to house a megawatt hydrogen electrolyser. This is a striking example how pre-existing infrastructure can also be used for more sustainable projects. It opens up new possibilities for other offshore platforms to do the same and change the way that we use energy.
Photo Source: Gasunie
Gasunie’s H2 network: Building new hydrogen infrastructure
Gasunie is another example of a company that uses pre-existing infrastructure to produce green hydrogen. Gasunie is a Dutch company that has built a national hydrogen network. They aim to link hydrogen supply and demand through five industrial clusters, all connected to one another and to hydrogen storage facilities.
It will be a flexible energy source, which can be transported easily and inexpensively once it is completed. This will play an important role in the integration of different energy systems into one. The direct connection to hydrogen storage facilities will allow for the market demand and supply of solar- or wind-generated electricity to be balanced.
Most importantly, the existing infrastructure will make hydrogen transmission cost-effective, easy to integrate, and quickly available.
The possibilities with Green Hydrogen are limitless
Green hydrogen is a promising renewable energy source and we will continue to hear about it. It’s clear that the world will be able to benefit from the many innovative opportunities it offers.
Research & content contributions: Albert van der Wiel, Senior Planner, Brunel Netherlands Engineering