Orsted and BP plan to jointly produce green hydrogen in Germany using offshore wind power.

The Danish renewables giant and oil supermajor have signed a letter-of-intent to build a 50MW electrolyser at BP’s Lingen refinery in northwest Germany, with H2 produced using power from an Orsted offshore wind farm.

The partners said the project is a first step towards a long-term ambition for 500MW of electrolyser capacity that could replace with renewable H2 all the refinery’s existing demand, which is currently met by grey hydrogen from fossil fuels.

The project could be up and running by 2024 subject to a final investment decision in early 2022. The first 50MW phase could produce about 9,000 tonnes of hydrogen annually, or about 20% of the total.

The planned scale of the project could help drive down the cost of green hydrogen against grey, and the ‘blue’ variety from abated fossil fuels, both of which currently hold a significant cost advantage over renewable H2, said Orsted.

Martin Neubert, CEO of offshore wind for the Danish group said: ‎‎“Heavy industries such as refineries use large quantities of hydrogen in their manufacturing ‎ processes. They will continue to need hydrogen, but replacing the current fossil-based ‎ hydrogen with hydrogen produced from renewable energy can help these industries ‎ dramatically lower their CO2 footprint.

“But first, renewable hydrogen has to become cost ‎ competitive with fossil-based hydrogen, and for that we need projects such as this with BP’s ‎ Lingen refinery which will demonstrate the electrolyser technology at large scale and ‎ showcase real-life application of hydrogen based on offshore wind.”‎

BP – which has this year dramatically ramped-up its low-carbon ambitions, including through an offshore wind partnership with Equinor in the US – said Lingen, which processes about five million tonnes of oil a year, could act as a test bed for its growth in green H2.

“We ‎ are determined to build a leading position in this emerging industry. Bringing together Ørsted ‎ and BP, Lingen Green Hydrogen offers the opportunity both to accelerate significant ‎ emissions reduction in our refinery and build experience of large-scale green hydrogen ‎production and deployment.”

The partners will apply for EU funding for the project.

Lingen is already the site of green hydrogen activity by BP, which earlier this year linked with utility RWE, chemicals producer Evonik and gas grid operators to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the construction of Germany’s first network connecting producers of green hydrogen with industrial customers.

Offshore wind is increasingly seen as an ideal partner for green hydrogen production thanks to its huge power output.

BP's rival Shell is already involved in several offshore wind-to-hydrogen initiatives in Europe, while floating wind is seen as having the potential to carry out electrolysis far from shore and pump H2 back to land, effectively creating floating hydrogen plants.