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, consisting of ITM Power, Ørsted, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and Element Energy, €5 million to investigate the feasibility and potential of combining an offshore wind turbine directly with an electrolyzer and transporting renewable hydrogen to shore.
The consortium will develop and test a megawatt-scale fully marinized electrolyzer in a shoreside pilot trial. The project will be coordinated by Element Energy. 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 facilitating the transition to a fully renewable energy system in Europe.
“To create a world that runs entirely on green energy, we need to electrify as much as we can,” says Anders Christian Nordstrøm, vice president and head of hydrogen activities at Ørsted. “However, some sectors cannot decarbonize through electrification and that’s where renewable hydrogen could play a significant role. Offshore hydrogen production could be a supplemental way of getting large amounts of energy generated from offshore wind power to shore. Having pioneered the offshore wind industry, we know that thorough analysis and testing are required before deploying new technologies at sea.”
To realize the potential of offshore hydrogen production, there is a need for compact electrolysis systems that can withstand harsh offshore environments and 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. Furthermore, the system will integrate desalination and water treatment processes, making it possible to use seawater as a feedstock for the electrolysis process.
The project is planned to start in 2021 and run to the end of 2024. ITM Power is responsible for the development of the electrolyzer system and trials, while Ørsted will lead the offshore deployment analysis, the feasibility study of future physical offshore electrolyzer deployments and support ITM Power in the design of the system for marinization and testing. Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and Element Energy are providing technical and project expertise.