To make green hydrogen, you need green power. In our case, this green power is wind power. This is why NortH2 wants to develop large wind farms well out of sight from the Wadden Islands, between 80 and 100 kilometres off the coast in the northern region of the Netherlands.
This is not because we want to be the biggest, but simply because the Dutch, German and European climate ambitions of having an energy system with zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 calls for large-scale growth of renewable power and the use of hydrogen in the energy system. In other words, we need green hydrogen. And, as pointed out earlier, this starts with wind, lots of wind. And, not unimportantly, if we want to achieve the climate goals in time, we need to get started right now.
NortH2; a big push in the right direction
The Dutch Climate Agreement has set the ambition to scale up electrolysis to such an extent that the Netherlands will be able to produce as much as 4 gigawatts of green hydrogen by 2030. The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) has even calculated that the Netherlands will need to have 7GW of hydrogen production capacity by then. An ambition that is as bold as it is necessary. Seeing that this is possible, NortH2 has taken on the challenge. By around the year 2040, we want to have gone from 4GW to as much as 10GW of green hydrogen production capacity. By 2040, hydrogen output, which will initially be produced in Eemshaven and later possibly offshore as well, will total around 1,000,000 metric tons on an annual basis, cutting carbon CO2 by 8 to 10 megatonnes a year. This would be a significant push in the right direction for the energy transition – and that is badly needed.
Wind farms at sea
The NortH2 ambition starts with the building of large offshore wind farms, which is the most costly part of our project, even if the costs of offshore wind turbines are falling steadily. The idea is to erect wind turbines far out at sea, at a depth of roughly 35 metres, which will produce between 12 to 15MW of power each. We will subsequently transport the green power output from these wind farms to the shore, where it will be converted into green hydrogen at the hydrogen plant. The green hydrogen is then either stored in salt caverns that are currently empty or immediately transported to the market using existing natural gas infrastructure.
As wind turbines are erected further out at sea, it becomes increasingly attractive to have hydrogen production closer to the source. With this in mind, we are continuing to explore options to convert wind power into hydrogen out at sea near the wind turbines, i.e. offshore electrolysis. Current calculations show that offshore electrolysis is still too expensive. In the current approach, electrolysis takes place on land, in Groningen province’s Eemshaven, which is known as the hydrogen port. That said, innovations in this field are moving fast and as the hydrogen market continues to grow, the costs involved in (offshore) electrolysis will also steadily come down.