The Anonymous Widower

Why Use A Hydrogen Pipeline Rather Than A Electricity Cable To Bring Electricity Ashore From A Windfarm?

A comment to the post entitled Siemens Gamesa Partners On Offshore Wind-to-Hydrogen, was as follows.

Trying to get my head around this concept. Build an electrolysis plant in the North Sea and run a hydrogen pipeline to shore, rather than generating electricity and transferring the power by undersea cable to a shore based electrolysis plant. Can it really be better technically and economically? Someone convince me.

The reasons probably all come down to saving money and hassle.

Reusing Existing Infrastructure

Supposing, you have an offshore gas field, which is on the point of being worked out.

  • It has a well-maintained platform on top.
  • It has a pipe to an onshore terminal that handles the natural gas and distributes it to end-users.

Supposing the following are possible.

  • Building a large wind farm in the vicinity of the platform.
  • Using the gas field for hydrogen storage.
  • Converting the gas terminal from natural gas to hydrogen.
  • The end-users can convert to hydrogen.

In some cases the end-users might even prefer hydrogen to natural gas, to help their own decarbonisation.

I would suspect that there will be a sound economic case to use hydrogen, where wind farms are developed, in the same areas as worked-out gas fields.

  • Platform demolition costs are deferred.
  • No HVDC link is needed, with an expensive converter station at the shore end.
  • The new system comes with energy storage.

The only extra cost might be that an offshore electrolyser is more expensive than an onshore one.

Engineering Resources

The engineering resources needed for a gas pipeline are different to those needed for an electrical system.

But because gas pipelines are a declining industry, they will be readily available.

Less Planning Hassle

There have been some objections to the development of wind farm terminals by Nimbies.

If a terminal is converted from natural gas to hydrogen, I suspect there will be fewer objections.

Better Control Of Wind Farms

There have been stories of wind farms having to be switched off because there is no-one to buy the electricity.

If some form of offshore hydrogen storage is possible, then the electricity can be used to generate hydrogen, which can be piped ashore, when it is needed.

It Won’t Be One Type Fits All

I suspect we’ll see some hybrid systems and other innovative engineering.


I believe that in a drive to cut costs, we’ll see a lot of energy brought ashore as hydrogen gas.



January 8, 2022 - Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , ,


  1. I guess there would be more energy loss using a cable for electricity than using a pipe for hydrogen.

    Comment by John Wright | January 8, 2022 | Reply

  2. Looks like the North Sea gas pipeline systems runs at 69Bar so exactly how much gas you can shift I wonder although I suspect electrolyser production will be way below capacity? I suspect you will need different compressors for Hydrogen but does seem sensible to repurpose an existing platform and infrastructure. I know there is concerns over impact of Hydrogen on steel causing it to become brittle so that maybe a limiting factor on what pressure you can run the pipeline at and for how long.
    OK should have read article on first as they are proposing a thermoplastic composite pipe to transport the gas. Still i do hope they reuse as much of the north sea infrastructure as possible to avoid expending more carbon emissions in creating new assets.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | January 8, 2022 | Reply

  3. There are lots of offshore platforms in “storage” in one of the Scottish firths, I wonder if these can be converted to electrolysis (individually or bolting a few together).

    Comment by Milest | January 9, 2022 | Reply

    • A lot of those are semi submersible exploration rigs i believe that maybe limited in how much weight they could support even if stripped of the derrick etc.

      Comment by Nicholas Lewis | January 10, 2022 | Reply

  4. Conversion to another purpose is always preferable than scrapping, if the sums add up.

    Comment by AnonW | January 9, 2022 | Reply

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