RWE Renewables plans to produce hydrogen directly at two offshore wind turbines in the German North Sea, the company revealed as part of a PR video on WindTV during the WindEnergy Hamburg industry conference.

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The green hydrogen will be produced from electrolysers directly integrated at the base of the tower of two 14MW turbines to be installed close to the island of Heligoland in a pilot phase of the AquaVentus initiative, which has the long-term goal to produce hydrogen from 10GW of offshore wind capacity close to the island by 2035.

The two units will be connected to the grid via a pipeline. It was not immediately clear when they are expected to enter into normal operating mode.

To date, there is no 14MW wind turbine on the market, but Siemens Gamesa said its SG14.0-222DD model is expected be commercially available by 2024.

The initiative spearheaded by Heligoland mayor Jörg Singer during the summer said it plans to build a first 30MW of electrolyser capacity called AquaPrimus by 2025, connected to a hydrogen pipeline to the island. The size would almost match the 28MW of the two turbines now mentioned by RWE.

AquaVentus is one of the largest of a growing list of offshore wind-to-hydrogen projects that also includes the North2 project by Shell, Eneco and Groningen Seaports that aims at feeding electrolysers with power from 10GW offshore wind farms in the Dutch part of the North Sea.

Industrial scale floating electrolysers

RWE Renewables chief executive Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath in the video urged that the use of green hydrogen needs to be scaled up quickly, and stressed the crucial role government policies play for the ramp up of the green gas.

“We should strive for dedicated hydrogen targets by [EU] member states to support the European hydrogen strategy,” Dotzenrath said.

“We need to reflect hydrogen in renewables build-out targets as it comes on top of existing renewable targets.”

Sven Utermöhlen, Chief Operating Officer Wind Offshore Global of RWE Renewables, in an interview told Recharge this week that the AquaVentus initiative plans “to operate floating electrolysers at an industrial scale with the island Heligoland as a central hub.”

“Our wind farms on site – Nordsee Ost, Amrumbank West and in the future Kaskasi – are ideal for this. The plans of the initiative envisage setting up electrolysis units in the North Sea with a total capacity of 10GW by 2035, enough to produce 1 million metric tons of green hydrogen,” he added.

An innovation cluster including the German Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Federation, the Offshore Wind Foundation and the municipality of Heligoland together with business and research actors will develop a strategy paper for the German government by 2022 on how to put the AquaVentus vision into practice, the initiative said earlier this year.