The Oyster project, a consortium of ITM Power, Ørsted, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, and Element Energy, has been awarded €5 million in funding from The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH2-JU) under the European Commission to demonstrate and investigate a combined wind turbine and electrolyser system designed for operation in marine environments.
The award is to enable the project to investigate the feasibility and potential of such a combination which would transport renewably created hydrogen to shore. The consortium will develop and test a megawatt-scale fully marinised electrolyser in a shoreside pilot trial. The project will be coordinated by Element Energy.
To realise 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 production of low-cost hydrogen. The project is intended to provide a major advance towards this aim.
The electrolyser 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 electrolyser system will integrate desalination and water treatment processes, making it possible to use seawater as a feedstock for the electrolysis process.
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 unlocking bulk markets for green hydrogen making a meaningful impact on CO2 emissions, and facilitating the transition to a fully renewable energy system in Europe.
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 electrolyser system and the electrolyser trials, while Ørsted will lead the offshore deployment analysis, the feasibility study of future physical offshore electrolyser deployments, and support ITM Power in the design of the electrolyser system for marinisation and testing. Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and Element Energy are providing technical and project expertise.
Anders Christian Nordstrøm, vice president and head of Ørsted's hydrogen activities, said: "To create a world that runs entirely on green energy, we need to electrify as much as we can. However, some sectors cannot decarbonise through electrification and that's where renewable hydrogen could play a significant role.”
Michael Dolman, associate director at Element Energy, commented: "Offshore wind is now one of the lowest cost forms of electricity generation in Europe and will have an important role in Europe's decarbonisation plans. There is growing interest in transporting renewable energy in the form of hydrogen, particularly for sites far from shore. Realising such a vision will require further development and innovations of the type to be demonstrated in the OYSTER project.”