Shell, utility RWE, and the Dutch and German gas grid operators, Gasunie and Gascade, will step up their collaboration over a pipeline to transport hydrogen produced from North Sea offshore wind to Germany.

The pipeline plan is a sub-project of the giant AquaVentus initiative called AquaDuctus, with a goal to pipe up to one million tonnes of green hydrogen annually from 2035 onwards.

The electricity to produce the hydrogen via electrolysis is slated to come from 10GW of wind farms between the German island of Heligoland and the Dogger sand bank in the middle of the North Sea.

As a first step, the companies will carry out a detailed feasibility study after signing a declaration of intent.

Compared to the transport of electricity generated offshore, the pipeline offers economic advantages as it can be built instead of five high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission systems, AquaVentus said, adding that over distances of more than 400km, it is “by far the most cost-effective option for transporting large volumes of energy”.

AquaVentus is one of the world’s largest green hydrogen projects. To enable a swift market ramp-up, the initiative is divided into sub-projects to synchronise demand, generation and transport.

The plan has also participated in the EU’s Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) process via the German economics ministry.

Due the large volume of hydrogen to be transported to Europe, AquaDuctus is a key milestone in the implementation of the German and European hydrogen strategies, AquaVentus said.