When floating wind power produces green hydrogen
15 km off the coast of Aberdeen in Scotland, a 2 MW-capacity floating wind farm will be deployed from 2024 by the American firm Principle Power. It will be tasked with converting wind power into hydrogen, making it the largest platform of this kind in the world.
Supported by the British government and Europe, the initiative aims to desalinate seawater and use it to produce hydrogen by electrolysis, in a process powered by the offshore wind turbine located on a floating platform. This type of wind turbine, dubbed “Dolphyn” by its designer, the company Principle Power, consists of semi-submersible floaters with three columns and an off-center turbine. The hydrogen produced will be transported by pipeline to land.
Once this prototype is commissioned, another platform with a capacity of 10 MW is set to be deployed in 2027. Discussions are underway with potential investors, including oil and gas companies, energy companies and investment funds.
The city of Aberdeen was chosen for this project both due to its location, which is subject to strong winds off its coast, and its involvement in the development of hydrogen. In 2013, the city launched a program by the name of H2 Aberdeen, with a view to creating hydrogen production stations dedicated to refueling a fleet of vehicles using this energy vector as fuel. The 62 vehicles making up this fleet include 15 double-decker buses equipped with a fuel cell and manufactured by the Canadian firm Ballard Power Systems.
Also known as carbon-free hydrogen, green hydrogen can be produced in different ways. The first is electrolysis of water, as will be set up off the coast of Aberdeen. The energy required for this chemical reaction can come from solar or wind sources or even nuclear power plants. Another method is to proceed by steam-reforming hydrocarbons, a technique usually used to produce so-called “gray” (high-carbon) hydrogen. This technique emits CO2, but if this CO2 is captured and stored, we also obtain green hydrogen.