Image: Project Management Jülich on behalf of the BMBF

Wind tur­bines with inte­grat­ed elec­trol­yser demon­strate sus­tain­able hydro­gen pro­duc­tion at sea

The off­shore wind tur­bines of the future will not pro­duce elec­trons, but mol­e­cules. Self-suf­fi­cient units con­sist­ing of a wind tur­bine and inte­grat­ed elec­trol­yser pro­duce green hydro­gen on an indus­tri­al scale and save the costs of an elec­tri­cal grid con­nec­tion. In this way, they can make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the reduc­tion of green­house gas­es. In a sec­ond step, the green hydro­gen can be con­vert­ed into oth­er syn­thet­ic fuels and ener­gy car­ri­ers. This vision is to become real­i­ty with­in the frame­work of the H2Mare lead project fund­ed by the Fed­er­al Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion and Research (BMBF).

The H2Mare lead project aims to ensure that a com­plete­ly new type of plant finds its place at sea in the future — a solu­tion that opti­mal­ly inte­grates an elec­trol­yser for the direct con­ver­sion of elec­tric cur­rent into an off­shore wind tur­bine. In addi­tion, fur­ther off­shore pow­er-to‑X process­es are being investigated.

For this pur­pose, the entire val­ue chain is con­sid­ered: from wind ener­gy gen­er­a­tion and hydro­gen pro­duc­tion to the con­ver­sion of hydro­gen into methane, liq­uid hydro­car­bons, methanol or ammo­nia and con­sump­tion by indus­try or the ener­gy sec­tor. This means that var­i­ous indus­tri­al con­nec­tion util­i­sa­tion and stor­age options are pos­si­ble. A sig­nif­i­cant cost advan­tage in the pro­duc­tion of large vol­umes of hydro­gen is the goal.

With­in four years, H2Mare — con­sist­ing of four col­lab­o­ra­tive projects with a total of 35 part­ners — aims to lay the foun­da­tion for tech­nol­o­gy lead­er­ship and sup­port the achieve­ment of cli­mate tar­gets through accel­er­at­ed green­house gas reduction.

“Togeth­er with our part­ners, we want to estab­lish the pro­duc­tion of green hydro­gen off­shore with H2Mare,” said Chris­t­ian Bruch, CEO of Siemens Ener­gy AG. “We bring to this our off­shore wind and elec­tri­fi­ca­tion capa­bil­i­ties as well as our elec­trol­y­sis exper­tise. H2Mare com­bines the strengths of research and indus­try — for the sus­tain­able decar­bon­i­sa­tion of the econ­o­my and the ben­e­fit of the envi­ron­ment. We need pol­i­cy sup­port to dri­ve inno­v­a­tive solu­tions for a Green Hydro­gen Economy.”

Siemens Ener­gy is respon­si­ble for the over­all coor­di­na­tion of H2Mare with the sup­port of insti­tutes of the Fraun­hofer Gesellschaft.

The four H2Mare projects are being dri­ven for­ward inde­pen­dent­ly of each other:

Off­grid­Wind: pur­sues the imple­men­ta­tion of a plant con­cept that real­izes elec­trol­y­sis direct­ly in the off­shore wind tur­bine, aim­ing at a high efficiency.

H2Wind: includes the devel­op­ment of a PEM elec­trol­y­sis (PEM = Pro­ton Exchange Mem­brane) opti­mal­ly adapt­ed to the off­shore envi­ron­ment and to the wind tur­bine. In addi­tion to the longevi­ty of the tur­bines and the chal­lenge of sea­wa­ter treat­ment, the max­i­mum yield of wind ener­gy is a goal of the project.

PtX wind: In con­trast to pure off­shore hydro­gen pro­duc­tion, the focus is on con­ver­sion into more eas­i­ly trans­portable syn­thet­ic ener­gy sources and fuels such as methanol and ammo­nia. Pow­er-to‑X prod­ucts are gen­er­at­ed via high-tem­per­a­ture elec­trol­y­sis andCO2 extrac­tion from the air or the sea. Direct salt water elec­trol­y­sis is also being tested.

Trans­fer­Wind: Trans­fer of knowl­edge to the pub­lic as well as the exchange of exper­tise across projects are addressed in Trans­fer­Wind. Safe­ty and envi­ron­men­tal issues as well as infra­struc­ture require­ments are also considered.

An impor­tant part of the inves­ti­ga­tions is the inte­gra­tion of indi­vid­ual process­es into over­all sys­tems: for exam­ple, the effi­cien­cy of the over­all process can be increased by heat inte­gra­tion of high-tem­per­a­ture elec­trol­y­sis in PtX process­es. This also includes the con­cept for stor­ing and trans­port­ing the hydro­gen or oth­er pow­er-to‑X prod­ucts by ship and pipeline. The inter­ac­tions between the var­i­ous process­es and the plant as well as their impact on the envi­ron­ment at the site are inves­ti­gat­ed, eval­u­at­ed and fur­ther devel­oped for the entire life cycle.

Chal­leng­ing on the mate­r­i­al lev­el is the appli­ca­tion of part­ly exist­ing tech­nol­o­gy for the first time in off­shore envi­ron­ments, respec­tive­ly the research of new mate­ri­als and com­po­nents for off­shore use. The devel­op­ment of dig­i­tal twins for the var­i­ous plant com­po­nents and tech­ni­cal and eco­nom­ic analy­ses based on them is being car­ried out in all four H2Mare projects.

H2Mare is one of three lead projects of the Fed­er­al Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion and Research. With its largest research ini­tia­tive to date on the sub­ject of the ener­gy tran­si­tion, it is sup­port­ing Ger­many’s entry into the hydro­gen econ­o­my. The three hydro­gen lead projects H2Giga, H2Mare and Tran­sHyDE are the result of an ideas com­pe­ti­tion and form a cen­tral con­tri­bu­tion of the BMBF to the imple­men­ta­tion of the Nation­al Hydro­gen Strategy.

Over a peri­od of four years they are to remove exist­ing hur­dles that impede Ger­many’s entry into a hydro­gen econ­o­my. This involves the series pro­duc­tion of large-scale water elec­trol­y­sers (H2Giga), the gen­er­a­tion of hydro­gen and down­stream prod­ucts at sea (H2Mare) and tech­nolo­gies for the trans­port of hydro­gen (Tran­sHyDE).

More than 240 part­ners from sci­ence and indus­try are work­ing togeth­er in the three hydro­gen lead projects. In spring, the projects were launched on the basis of non-bind­ing fund­ing prospects. The total fund­ing will amount to up to 740 mil­lion euros.

Fraun­hofer IWES is a project part­ner in the col­lab­o­ra­tive projects Off­grid­Wind and H2Wind, and an asso­ci­at­ed part­ner in Trans­fer­Wind. Sci­en­tists are mod­el­ling dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios for hydro­gen-pro­duc­ing wind farms and car­ry­ing out spe­cif­ic tests on heat cou­pling and sea­wa­ter treatment.