Producing hydrogen at sea: A global challenge to be tackled
Around the world, the race for hydrogen is on and the development of offshore wind farms is booming. Lhyfe – which inaugurated the world’s first site for the production of hydrogen from onshore wind turbines in September 2021 and which is currently preparing to deploy its solutions Europe-wide – is convinced of the central role offshore has to play in the massification of renewable green hydrogen production.
Producing hydrogen using offshore wind turbines could allow all countries with a coastline to access renewable green hydrogen, produced locally, beyond the horizon line, and in industrial quantities, to decarbonize transportation and industry. However, until now, no one has ever produced hydrogen at sea. It is to prove that it is now possible that Lhyfe is today taking on the great offshore challenge.
A series of major and unprecedented challenges
Through this pilot site, Lhyfe will produce the first kilograms of renewable green hydrogen at quay and then at sea, operating automatically, in the most extreme conditions.
The Sealhyfe platform must therefore meet several major and unprecedented challenges, including:
- Performing all stages of hydrogen production at sea
- Managing the effects on the system of the platform’s motion
- Enduring environmental stress
- Operating in an isolated environment
A demonstrator developed with top experts
To achieve this technological feat, Lhyfe relied on the facilities of the offshore testing site, SEM-REV, operated by Centrale Nantes.
The electrolyser was supplied and optimized for these exceptional operating conditions by Plug Power, one of the market leaders that is strongly engaged in the offshore route. Together, Plug and Lhyfe have developed the first electrolyser capable of operating on a floating platform.
The project also benefited from the expertise of French offshore and marine renewable energy players:
- CHANTIERS DE L’ATLANTIQUE for enhancing the resilience of the system to environmental stress, ventilation systems and the electrical architecture of the system,
- GEPS TECHNO and EIFFAGE ENERGIE SYSTÈMES for the system’s integration on a platform and the naval architecture of the latter, specifically for the particularly stormy sea conditions of the site,
- The Port of Saint-Nazaire, facilitator of Sealhyfe’s assembly and testing, and,
- KRAKEN SUBSEA SOLUTIONS, which participated in the design of the underwater electrical connection to the renewable marine energies produced on the SEM-REV platform.
A multi-phase trial
A first six-month trial phase is being started at quay, in the port of Saint-Nazaire, to obtain initial reference measurements and test all of the systems (desalination and cooling systems, stack behaviour, remote control, energy management, resistance to environmental conditions, etc.).
At the end of this first stage, Sealhyfe will spend a period of 12 months off the Atlantic coast. It will be installed less than a kilometre from the floating wind turbine, fixed to the ground by a system of anchors and connected to the site’s underwater hub using an umbilical designed and dedicated for this application (energy and data transfer).
At the end of this trial, Lhyfe will have a substantial volume of data, which should allow it to design mature offshore production systems, and to deploy robust and proven technologies on a large scale, in keeping with the EU’s objective to produce 10 million tonnes a year of renewable hydrogen by 2030.
Sealhyfe has the capacity to produce up to 400 kg of renewable green hydrogen a day, equivalent to 1MW of power. By 2030-2035, offshore could represent an additional installed capacity of around 3 GW for Lhyfe.
Sealhyfe has had support from the French energy and environment agency ADEME and the Pays de la Loire Region.