Netherlands Plans World’s Largest Offshore Hydrogen Production Site

Gemini Wind Farm Netherlands
Hydrogen production will take place offshore next to the Gemini wind farm (Gemini)

Published Mar 20, 2023 7:12 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Netherlands is moving forward with plans for the development of the world’s largest offshore hydrogen production project. Last December the government said it intended to pursue offshore hydrogen production and today the Ministry for Climate and Energy Policy announced the site selection working from existing plans for offshore wind farm development and the existing natural gas pipeline.

The project would be the first in which hydrogen production at sea is carried out on a large scale. The site selected is the Ten noorden van de Waddeneilanden Wind Farm Zone located 30 nautical miles off the north coast of the Netherlands in the North Sea. The government has been studying the site in its plans for additional offshore wind farm development. Plans had called for a wind farm tender in 2022 but were delayed while additional studies were taking place to finalize the route for the export cables from the site to shore.

The designated site consists of nearly 30,000 square acres and the government reports there is strong support within the Groningen region for the project. The wind farm plan calls for the development of a new farm located north of the Wadden Islands that would provide 700 MW of electric power from wind. The existing Gemini Wind Farm (600 MW) lies within the region adjacent to the designated site. Gemini began operations in 2017 as one of the world’s largest offshore wind parks, both in terms of size and production.

The ministry said the wind farm would provide 500 MW of electrolysis capacity. They expect it should be operational around 2031. The site was also selected because there is an existing natural gas pipeline that can possibly be reused for transport to land. They believe it could also be connected to the planned hydrogen network which will be developed by Gasunie.

“We are a global leader with this plan. It is also a big step on top of the goal of 4GW electrolysis in 2030 from the Climate Agreement,” said Minister Rob Jetten. “We have already designated the area as a preferred location so that preparations can start quickly and we provide the sector with clarity so that they can make their investment plans. The province and the municipalities are fully committed to a green economy in which the production of sustainable energy is central.”

The expectation is that the project can provide valuable experience with this new technology, which they expect will play a major role in the energy system of the future. It will also expand on the work underway on a smaller pilot with an electrolysis capacity of approximately 50-100 MW. This first project the government says should help to identify and address issues from the technology so that the project of 500 MW can be realized efficiently. Later this year, the minister also wants to choose a preferred location for this smaller project.

Before the tenders are issued, the Ministry is carefully working out several important matters together with the Groningen region, parties around the Wadden Sea Region, and involved parties. This includes discussions on the landing of the pipeline to bring the hydrogen from the wind farm ashore and how hydrogen production can be done safely and in an ecologically responsible manner.