South American renewables champion Uruguay is looking at options to produce green hydrogen from offshore wind farms off its coast in the South Atlantic Ocean, possibly holding its first tenders as soon as two years from now.

Alejandro Stipanicic, president of the country’s state-owned petroleum, cement and beverages group Ancap, presented the ‘H2U Offshore’ plan at a press conference earlier this week, saying his company will carry out a call for tender for interested companies to install a platform where green hydrogen can be produced directly offshore via electrolysis from offshore wind power.

“We hope to have a round of consultations with companies to understand their expectations, so that they can access our information and can complement their basic information,” Stipanicic said.

“This can take between eight months and two years. After that it's reasonable for us to hold the tender.”

Traditionally relying on hydroelectric power, Uruguay in the past decade has invested massively in wind and solar and now generates nearly all of its electricity from renewable sources.

The US International Trade Administration added that Uruguay plans to generate green hydrogen for export from future offshore wind farms. The H2U project builds on a green hydrogen pilot project launched by the country’s energy ministry to produce and distribute H2 for use in the transportation sector.

“The ‘H2U Offshore’ project will offer between 8 to 16 blocks off the coast of Uruguay,” the US ITA said on its website, adding the project needs estimated investments of $1-3bn.

“The first block is located more than 10km from the Uruguayan coast at a depth of between 10 and 30 metres. The second block is located more than 100 km from the Uruguayan coast with a maximum depth of 50 metres.“

The concession of the blocks would be for a term of 25 years and include the installation of the platform, the ‘hydrolyser’, and a green ammonia plant, the ITA said.

The South American country according to an estimate by the World Bank in its part of the South Atlantic has a theoretical potential for 190GW in bottom-fixed offshore wind, and another 85GW in floating wind, as well as wind speeds that exceed 9 m/s.

Experts at the Ancap press conference talked about Uruguay’s great potential to produce green hydrogen, and highlighted the company’s capacity in complex installation processes, knowledge and experience in geology and offshore, and in contracts and negotiation with oil majors.

Ancap operates the country’s largest oil & gas refinery at La Teja.