The CrossWind consortium of oil supermajor Shell and Dutch utility Eneco has won the latest zero subsidy offshore wind tender in the Netherlands, the country’s economics ministry said, moving ahead the developer’s plans to create a green hydrogen hub in the port of Rotterdam.

Production from the 759MW Hollandse Kust North zone would power some 200MW of electrolyser capacity, initally to decarbonise Shell’s Pernis refinery. The Rotterdam hub is slated to be a “stepping stone” toward the giant NortH2 project that would be engineered to turn 10GW in offshore wind capacity into vast volumes of hydrogen.

“We are proud that we will build Hollandse Kust North together with our joint venture partner Eneco. Wind at sea will play an important role in the world-wide energy transition,” said Maarten Wetselaar, head of Shell’s integrated Gas and New Energies unit.

“This wind farm is a crucial part of a new value chain from wind to hydrogen with our ambition to build a green hydrogen factory in Rotterdam and with NortH2.”

Next to integrating the production of green hydrogen (via electrolysis), Shell also plans to add other technology demonstration projects to Hollandse Kust North to help balance out the intermittency of offshore wind power output.

Among them are a floating solar park, short-term battery storage, and turbines that are optimally tuned to the network to minimise the negative ‘wake’-effects that wind turbines have on each other.

Pierre Tardieu, chief policy Officer at WindEurope, said: “In its July Hydrogen Strategy, the European Commission stressed the central role of renewable hydrogen in decarbonising shipping, aviation and parts of industry than cannot be directly electrified.

“The Hollandse Kust Noord tender shows the industry is playing its part. Europe now needs policies to help scale up electrolysers and boost demand for renewable hydrogen, alongside direct electrification measures, to deliver climate neutrality.”

Hollandse Kust North is the last of five offshore wind projects of around 700MW that are part of the Netherland’s strategy to boost its wind power capacity at sea to 4.7GW, which are slated to meet 16% of the country’s power needs when they are completed in 2023.

CrossWind is slated to use Siemens Gamesa 11MW turbines with a 200-metre-diameter rotor in the wind project, which lies some 18.5km off the coast of the Dutch province of North Holland.

Wetselaar added that offshore wind is an important step in the oil firm’s ambition to become a net zero energy company by 2050 or earlier.

“This investment fits in well with Shell's aspirations to competitively deliver more and cleaner energy to our customers, at home, on the road and at work.”

Shell and Eneco beat Danish offshore wind pacesetter Orsted in the auction, while Vattenfall, which is building the nearby Hollandse Kust South 1-4 arrays had decided to drop out of the Hollandse Kust North tender.