Green hydrogen with offshore wind energy
The aim of this project, which is being funded by the Lower Saxony Ministry of the Environment for two years, is to promote a broad-based exchange of knowledge and experience between all stakeholders along the value chain of offshore wind energy and green hydrogen, particularly in the state of Lower Saxony. The stakeholders involved stem from politics, industry as well as research. In addition, the project aims to formulate corresponding utilization concepts for green hydrogen.
Background of the project
With the passing of the Wind Energy at Sea Act Amendment (WindSeeG) in July 2022, the expansion targets for offshore wind power in Germany were once again significantly increased: 30 GW by 2030, 40 GW by 2035, 70 GW by 2045. Together with the expansion ambitions of the littoral states, the North Sea and Baltic Sea will thus become an "energy centre" and the backbone of tomorrow's emission-free energy supply for the coming decades. In this context, large, steady quantities of offshore electricity do not only offer enormous potential for direct "green" electrification and thus decarbonisation of industry, the economy and society, but also indirectly a basis for the operation of electrolysers for the production of green hydrogen and other derivatives. These are considered to be equally key to the successful decarbonisation of many industrial processes as well as to sector coupling, in order to be able to follow the energy transition with a transportation and heating transition. Furthermore, electrolysers can play an important role in the future in making the power grid, which will be based on renewable energies, more flexible taking pressure of the grid.
The importance of building a hydrogen economy based on renewable energies was already highlighted by the German coastal states in their North German Hydrogen Strategy in November 2019. Lower Saxony, as the coastal state with by far the highest landfall capacity of offshore electricity in Germany and as a geographically vast state with large industrial centres, has a special role to play here on both the supply and demand side. In June 2020, both the German government and the European Commission followed suit with a national and European hydrogen strategy. According to the German government, 10 GW of electrolysis capacity for the production of green hydrogen are to be created in Germany alone by 2030. In 2022, all hydrogen strategies are in the process of being updated.
Project goals and focal points
While the overarching targets are clear, the path to get there is less so. At both national and European levels, the legal framework for a functioning sustainable hydrogen market is in the making, and arguments are raging over the right support regimes and incentives. Electricity from offshore wind can be used both for the operation of electrolysers on land and for the direct production of hydrogen at sea. The latter, in particular, requires itsown regulatory framework and targets, which so far exist only in rudimentary form.
The German Offshore Wind Energy Foundationhas already been supporting the state of Lower Saxony since December 2020 in successfully implementing the expansion targets for offshore wind energy formulated in the WindSeeG as well as the prospects for green hydrogen formulated in the hydrogen strategies of the federal and state governments.
Promoting the exchange of knowledge and experience between different stakeholder groups at different levels, e.g. between offshore wind farm operators, plant manufacturers and supplier industry, authorities and politics, gas and electricity grid operators, the electrolysis industry and other industry players, as well as universities and research institutions, in order to address the open questions, is of particular importance. In addition, the foundation provides technical support for the further development of the legal and economic framework, prepares market and technology analyses, designs dialogue formats and provides information materials.