EC Funding Project to Investigate Offshore Hydrogen Production

project explores offshore hydrogen production

Published Jan 8, 2021 4:15 PM by The Maritime Executive

The European Commission has awarded funding to a research project to investigate the feasibility and potential of combining an offshore wind turbine directly with an electrolyzer and transporting renewable hydrogen to shore. Known as the OYSTER project it is designed to demonstrate a combined wind turbine and electrolyzer system designed for operation in marine environments.

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, just over $6 million to investigate offshore hydrogen production. The project members, which include ITM Power, Ørsted, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, and Element Energy, will develop and test a megawatt-scale fully marinized electrolyzer in a shoreside pilot trial.

Their vision is for hydrogen to be produced from offshore wind at a cost that is competitive with natural gas (with a realistic carbon tax).  By achieving this they believe it will be possible to unlock bulk markets for green hydrogen and facilitate the transition to a fully renewable energy system in Europe. 

To realize the potential of offshore hydrogen production, the OYSTER project explains there is a need for compact electrolysis systems that can withstand harsh offshore environments. It needs to have minimal maintenance requirements while still meeting cost and performance targets that will allow the production of low-cost hydrogen. The partners believe this project will provide a major advance towards this aim.

The electrolyzer 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 electrolyzer system will integrate desalination and water treatment processes, making it possible to use seawater as a feedstock for the electrolysis process.

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 electrolyzer system and the electrolyzer 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 electrolyzer system for marinisation and testing. Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and Element Energy are providing technical and project expertise.