A study by AFRY Management Consulting confirms the clear advantages of hydrogen production at sea. It thus supports the approach of the AquaVentus initiative in the German North Sea compared to other system options in terms of cost, environmental impact and implementation time. AquaVentus plans to produce 1 million metric tons of hydrogen offshore in the waters off Helgoland by 2035 and bring it ashore by pipeline.
The study compared the AquaVentus concept of offshore hydrogen generation with transport via a gathering line with alternative options via offshore electrolysis and marine transport or offshore electricity generation and onshore electrolysis. The advantages and disadvantages of the options were evaluated based on cost, implementation time, and environmental impact.
In all three dimensions studied, offshore electrolysis with pipeline connection emerges as the best approach: according to the study, a pipeline for hydrogen produced offshore can be realized up to five and a half years faster than a submarine cable connection for offshore electricity for onshore electrolysis. This could significantly accelerate the energy development of particularly remote areas in the exclusive economic zone. In addition, the investment would require up to 6 billion euros less and lower the production costs for green hydrogen. 610 kilometers of pipeline compared to 3720 kilometers of high-voltage lines, as well as the location of the electrolysis facility on the high seas, mean significant advantages in terms of environmental impact on the Wattenmeer tidelands ecosystem from the point of view of licensing law and environmental protection, even in particularly sensitive areas. The option of ship transport proves to be hardly feasible, if only because more than 100 ships would be needed.
Chairman of the association, Helgoland Mayor Jörg Singer says:
“Our member companies, which now number 96, are convinced of the AquaVentus vision and projects are underway to implement it. In this context, the study now published impressively proves that the AquaVentus concept is faster, more environmentally friendly and more cost-effective than the other concepts examined.”
According to AquaVentus, the vision of 10 GW of offshore electrolysis capacity by 2035 must now be implemented quickly. However, important political decisions still have to be taken for this to happen:
“Policymakers must now make a clear commitment to offshore electrolysis on the high seas in order to exploit its potential. The current update of the national hydrogen strategy offers the opportunity to set a clear roadmap for expansion and build the necessary confidence. In addition, further energy production options must be defined as part of the site development plan, and government support for the expansion of the technology to become competitive must be designed as quickly as possible.”