The Anonymous Widower

Do BP And The Germans Have A Cunning Plan For European Energy Domination?

The headline of this post may be slightly tongue in cheek, but I believe that a plan is being hatched.

Preamble

I’ll start with a preamble, where I’ll outline some of the factors behind what may be happening.

Decarbonisation

It is generally accepted by most people that there is a need to decarbonise everything we do.

And large oil companies like Shell, BP and others are starting to move in the same direction.

Hydrogen

Using hydrogen instead of fossil fuels is becoming one of the major routes to decarbonisation.

Hydrogen can be used for the following.

  • Provide power for cars, buses, trucks, trains, locomotives and ships.
  • Hydrogen can be used in steelmaking instead of coking coal.
  • As a chemical feedstock to make ammonia, fertiliser and a large range of petrochemicals.
  • I believe that hydrogen could be a viable fuel to power aircraft over thousands of miles.

Hydrogen will become the most common zero-carbon fuel.

Hydrogen  And Natural Gas

In many applications hydrogen can replace natural gas, so for large users of natural gas, hydrogen offers a route to decarbonisation.

But hydrogen can also be mixed up to a level of around twenty percent in natural gas for partial decarbonisation of applications like space heating. Most industrial uses, boilers and appliances can be made to work very successfully with this mixture.

I grew up in the 1950s with coal gas, which according to Wikipedia had this composition.

  • hydrogen 50%
  • methane 35%
  • carbon monoxide 10%
  • ethylene 5%
  • When we changed over in the 1970s, all my appliances were converted.

This is the UK government description of natural gas.

It contains primarily methane, along with small amounts of ethane, butane, pentane, and propane. Natural gas does not contain carbon monoxide. The by-products of burning natural gas are primarily carbon dioxide and water vapour. Natural gas is colourless, tasteless and odourless.

As with the conversion from coal-gas to natural gas, conversion from Natural gas to a hydrogen/natural  gas mixture and eventually to hydrogen, will be a relatively painless process.

Note that carbon monoxide is a nasty poison and is not contained in either natural gas or hydrogen.

Green Hydrogen And Electrolysis Of Water

Green hydrogen is hydrogen produced exclusively from renewable energy sources.

Typically green hydrogen is produced by electrolysis of water using electricity produced by hydro, solar, tidal or wind.

The largest factory building electrolysers is owned by ITM Power.

  • It is located in Rotherham.
  • The factory has the capacity to build 1 GW of electrolysers in a year.
  • Typical electrolysers have a capacity of several MW.

Ryse Hydrogen are building an electrolyser at Herne Bay, that  will consume 23 MW of solar and wind power and produce ten tonnes of hydrogen per day.

Blue Hydrogen

‘Blue hydrogen is produced through a production process where carbon dioxide is also produced then subsequently captured via carbon capture and storage. In many cases the carbon dioxide is stored in depleted gas fields, of which we have plenty in the North Sea. Over the last few years, research has been ongoing into using the carbon dioxide. Applications in horticulture and agriculture, carbon structures and sustainable aviation fuel are being developed.

Shell have also developed the Shell Blue Hydrogen Process, where the carbon is extracted from methane as carbon dioxide and then stored or used.

CO2 In Greenhouse Horticulture

This paper from The Netherlands is called CO2 In Greenhouse Horticulture.

Read it and you might believe me, when I say, we’ll eat a lot of carbon in the form of tomatoes, salads and soft fruit. We’ll also buy flowers grown in a carbon-dioxide rich atmosphere.

Hydrogen As An Energy Transfer Medium

Every kilogram of natural gas when it burns releases energy, as it does in your boiler or gas hob. So it transfers energy in the form of gas from the gas well or storage tank to your house.

Electricity can also be transferred from the power station to your house using wires instead of pipes.

Hydrogen is being put forward as a means of transferring energy over hundreds of miles.

  • Electricity is converted to hydrogen, probably using an electrolyser, which would be powered by zero-carbon electricity.
  • The hydrogen is transferred using a steel pipe.
  • At the destination, the hydrogen is either distributed to end-users, stored or used in a gas-fired power station, that has been modified to run on hydrogen, to generate electricity.

It sounds inefficient, but it has advantages.

  • Long underwater cables have energy losses.
  • Electrical connections use a lot of expensive copper.
  • Re-use of existing gas pipes is possible.
  • Oil and gas companies like BP and their contractors have been laying gas pipes on land and under water for decades.

If hydrogen has a problem as an energy transfer medium, it is that it us difficult to liquify, as this statement from Air Liquide illustrates.

Hydrogen turns into a liquid when it is cooled to a temperature below -252,87 °C. At -252.87°C and 1.013 bar, liquid hydrogen has a density of close to 71 kg/m3. At this pressure, 5 kg of hydrogen can be stored in a 75-liter tank.

To transport, larger quantities of hydrogen by ship, it is probably better to convert the hydrogen into ammonia, which is much easier to handle.

The Germans and others are experimenting with using liquid ammonia to power large ships.

Hydrogen As An Energy Storage Medium

The UK has a comprehensive National Transmission System for natural gas with large amounts of different types of storage.

This section of the Wikipedia entry is entitled Natural Gas Storage and lists ten large storage facilities in salt caverns and depleted onshore gas fields. In addition, several depleted offshore gas fields have been proposed for the storage of natural gas. Rough was used successfully for some years.

I can certainly see a network of hydrogen storage sites being developed both onshore and offshore around the UK.

Iceland

With its large amount of hydro-electric and geothermal energy, Iceland can generate much more electricity, than it needs and has been looking to export it.

The UK is probably the only country close enough to be connected to Iceland to buy some of the country’s surplus electricity.

There has been a proposal called Icelink, that would build an electrical interconnector with a capacity of around a GW between Iceland at the UK.

But the project seems to have stalled since I first heard about it on my trip to Iceland in 2014.

Could the engineering problems just be too difficult?

The Waters Around The Northern Parts Of Great Britain

Look at a map of the UK and particularly Great Britain and there is a massive area of water, which is not short of wind.

Between Norway, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, the East Coast of England, the Northern Coasts of Scotland and Iceland, there are only a few islands.

  • The Faroes
  • The Orkneys
  • The Shetlands

To be complete we probably must include hundreds of oil and gas rigs and platforms and the Dogger Bank.

  • Oil and gas companies probably know most there is to know about these waters.
  • Gas pipelines connect the production platforms to terminals at Sullom Voe and along the East Coast from St. Fergus near Aberdeen to Bacton in Norfolk.
  • Many of the oil and gas fields are coming to the end of their working lives.

I believe that all this infrastructure could be repurposed to support the offshore wind industry.

The Dutch Are Invading The Dogger Bank

The Dogger Bank sits in the middle of the North Sea.

  • It is roughly equidistant from Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK.
  • The Western part is in UK territorial waters.
  • The Eastern part is mainly in Dutch territorial waters.

On the UK part, the Dogger Bank Wind Farm is being developed.

  • The turbines will be between 78 and 180 miles from the shore.
  • It could have a capacity of up to 5 GW.
  • It would be connected to East Yorkshire or Teesside.

On their side of the Dogger Bank, the Dutch are proposing the North Sea Wind Power Hub.

  • It is a collaboration between the Dutch, Germans, and Danes.
  • There have been reports, that up to 110 GW of turbines could be installed.
  • It will be connected to the Dogger Bank Wind Farm, as well as The Netherlands.

It is also planned that the connections to the Dogger Bank will create another interconnector between the UK and the Continent.

The Shetland Islands

The Shetland Islands are the only natural islands with a large oil and gas infrastructure in the waters to the North of Great Britain.

They have a large gas and oil terminal at Sullom Voe.

  • Oil is transported to the terminal by pipelines and tanker.
  • Oil is exported by tanker.
  • Gas is imported from oil and gas fields to the West of the islands through the West of Shetland Pipeline.
  • The gas-fired Sullom Voe power station provide about 80 MW of power to the islands.

This document on the APSE web site is entitled Future Hydrogen Production In Shetland.

It describes how the Shetland Islands can decarbonise and reposition themselves in the energy industry to be a major producer of hydrogen.

It gives these two facts about carbon emissions in the Shetlands Islands and Scotland.

  • Annual per capita CO2 emissions in the Shetland Islands are 17 tonnes.
  • In Scotland they are just 5.3 tonnes.

By comparison, the UK average is 5.55 and Qatar is 37.29.

Currently, the annual local market for road, marine and domestic fuel calculated
at around £50 million.

These are the objectives of the Shetland’s plan for future hydrogen production.

  • Supply 32TWh of low carbon hydrogen annually, 12% of the expected UK total requirement, by 2050
  • Provide more than 3GW of wind generated electrical power to Shetland, the UK grid, generating green hydrogen and electrification of the offshore oil and gas sector
  • Enable all West of Shetland hydrocarbon assets to be net zero by 2030 and abate 8Mt/year CO2 by 2050
  • Generate £5bn in annual revenue by 2050 and contribute significantly to the UK Exchequer.

They also envisage removing the topsides of platforms, during decommissioning of mature East of Shetland
oil fields and repurposing them for hydrogen production using offshore wind.

That is certainly a powerful set of ambitions.

This diagram from the report shows the flow of electricity and hydrogen around the islands, terminals and platforms.

Note these points about what the Shetlanders call the Orion Project.

  1. Offshore installations are electrified.
  2. There are wind turbines on the islands
  3. Hydrogen is provided for local energy uses like transport and shipping.
  4. Oxygen is provided for the fish farms and a future space centre.
  5. There is tidal power between the islands.
  6. There are armadas of floating wind turbines to the East of the islands.
  7. Repurposed oil platforms are used to generate hydrogen.
  8. Hydrogen can be exported by pipeline to St. Fergus near Aberdeen, which is a distance of about 200 miles.
  9. Hydrogen can be exported by pipeline to Rotterdam, which is a distance of about 600 miles.
  10. Hydrogen can be exported by tanker to Rotterdam and other parts of Europe.

It looks a very comprehensive plan!

The German Problem

Germany has an energy problem.

  • It is a large energy user.
  • It has the largest production of steel in Europe.
  • It prematurely shut some nuclear power stations.
  • About a quarter of electricity in Germany comes from coal. In the UK it’s just 1.2 %.
  • It is very reliant on Russian natural gas.
  • The country also has a strong Green Party.
  • Germany needs a lot more energy to replace coal and the remaining nuclear.
  • It also needs a lot of hydrogen to decarbonise the steel and other industries.

Over the last few months, I’ve written these articles.

Germany seems to have these main objectives.

  • Increase their supply of energy.
  • Ensure a plentiful supply of hydrogen.

They appear to be going about them with a degree of enthusiasm.

BP’s Ambition To Be Net Zero By 2050

This press release from BP is entitled BP Sets Ambition For Net Zero By 2050, Fundamentally Changing Organisation To Deliver.

This is the introductory paragraph.

BP today set a new ambition to become a net zero company by 2050 or sooner, and to help the world get to net zero. The ambition is supported by ten aims

The ten aims are divided into two groups.

Five Aims To Get BP To Net Zero

These are.

  1. Net zero across BP’s operations on an absolute basis by 2050 or sooner.
  2. Net zero on carbon in BP’s oil and gas production on an absolute basis by 2050 or sooner.
  3. 50% cut in the carbon intensity of products BP sells by 2050 or sooner.
  4. Install methane measurement at all BP’s major oil and gas processing sites by 2023 and reduce methane intensity of operations by 50%.
  5. Increase the proportion of investment into non-oil and gas businesses over time.

I would assume that by gas, they mean natural gas.

Five Aims To Help The World Get To Net Zero

These are.

  1. More active advocacy for policies that support net zero, including carbon pricing.
  2. Further incentivise BP’s workforce to deliver aims and mobilise them to advocate for net zero.
  3. Set new expectations for relationships with trade associations.
  4. Aim to be recognised as a leader for transparency of reporting, including supporting the recommendations of the TCFD.
  5. Launch a new team to help countries, cities and large companies decarbonise.

This all does sound like a very sensible policy.

BP’s Partnership With EnBW

BP seemed to have formed a partnership with EnBW to develop offshore wind farms in the UK

Their first investment is described in this press release from BP, which is entitled BP Advances Offshore Wind Growth Strategy; Enters World-Class UK Sector With 3GW Of Advantaged Leases In Irish Sea.

This is the first five paragraphs.

bp and partner EnBW selected as preferred bidder for two highly-advantaged 60-year leases in UK’s first offshore wind leasing round in a decade.

Advantaged leases due to distance from shore, lower grid cost, synergies from scale, and faster cycle time.

Projects expected to meet bp’s 8-10% returns aim, delivering attractive and stable returns and integrating with trading, mobility, and other opportunities.

Annual payments expected for four years before final investment decisions and assets planned to be operational in seven years.

In the past six months bp has entered offshore wind in the UK – the world’s largest market – and the US – the world’s fastest-growing market.

Note.

  1. EnBW are Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG, who, according to Wikipedia, are the third largest utilities company in Germany.
  2. It also appears, that EnBW have developed wind farms.

BP have issued this infographic with the press release.

Note.

  1. The lease areas don’t appear to be far from the Morecambe Bay gas field.
  2. The Morecambe Bay gas field is coming to the end of its life.
  3. The Morecambe Bay gas field is connected to the Rampside gas terminal at Barrow-in-Furness.
  4. At peak production 15 % of the UK’s natural gas came from Morecambe Bay.

I just wonder, if there is a cunning plan.

Could the platforms be repurposed to act as electrical hubs for the wind turbines?

  • 3GW of electricity would produce 55 tonnes of hydrogen per day.
  • The hydrogen would be exported to the Rampside gas terminal using the existing pipelines.
  • There may be savings to be made, as HVDC links are expensive.
  • BP either has the engineering to convert the platforms or they know someone who does.
  • Would the industrial complex at Barrow-in-Furnace and the nearby Sellafield complex have a use for all that hydrogen?
  • Or would the hydrogen be used to fuel Lancashire’s buses and trucks on the M6.

It certainly looks to me, that it could be a possibility, to bring the energy ashore as hydrogen.

BP Seeking Second Wind Off Scotland

The title of this section, is the same as that of this article in The Times.

These are the first two paragraphs.

BP is preparing to bid for the rights to build wind farms off Scotland as it signals no let-up in expansion after a £900 million splurge on leases in the Irish Sea.

The London-based oil giant caused waves in February by offering record prices to enter the UK offshore wind market through a Crown Estate auction of seabed leases off England and Wales.

As I said earlier.

  • The Shetland Islands are developing themselves as a giant hydrogen factor.
  • There are pipelines connecting platforms to the Sullom Voe Terminal.
  • There are plans to convert some of the redundant platforms into hydrogen production platforms.
  • The islands will be developing ways to export the hydrogen to the South and Europe.

BP also operates the Schiehallion oil and gas field to the West of the Shetlands, which is connected to the Sullom Voe Terminal by the West of Shetland pipeline.

Could BP and EnBW be coming to the party?

They certainly won’t be arriving empty-handed.

Does BP Have Access To Storage Technology?

I ask this question because both the Morecambe Bay and Shetland leases could be built with co-located depleted gas fields and offshore electrolysers.

So could hydrogen gas be stored in the gas fields?

I think it could be a possibility and would mean that hydrogen would always be available.

Could Iceland Be Connected To Schiehallion Via A Gas Pipeline?

I estimate that Iceland and Schiehallion would be about six hundred miles.

This wouldn’t be the longest undersea gas pipeline in the world as these two are longer.

The Langeled pipeline cost £1.7 billion.

Conclusion

I think there’s more to the link-up between BP and EnBW.

I am fairly certain, that BP are thinking about converting some redundant gas platforms into hubs for wind turbine, which use the electricity to create hydrogen, which is then exported to the shore using existing gas pipelines and onshore terminals.

Could it be said, that BP will be recycling oil and gas platforms?

I feel that the answer is yes! Or at least maybe!

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind!

May 6, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Orsted In Gigawatt-Scale Offshore Wind To Green Hydrogen Plan With Steel Giant ArcelorMittal

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Recharge.

The title says a lot and at the heart of the plan is a 1 GW electrolyser.

Now that is enormous.

Will it be made in Rotherham by ITM Power?

The article is a must read.

April 1, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , | 4 Comments

Zero Emission Refuse Trucks: Why Fuel Cell Power Just Makes Sense

The title of this post, is the same as this blog post on Ballard.

It is a must-read and illustrates how these prominent vehicles can go zero-carbon at a similar cost to diesel, without altering working practices.

They also talk about Glasgow’s roll-out of a fleet of 19 hydrogen-powered refuse trucks.

I can’t find out who are building these trucks, but the electrolyser to produce the hydrogen is from ITM Power.

 

 

March 25, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-Steelworks To Make Wind Farm Parts In Plan For 6,000 Green Jobs

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Times.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The government will invest almost £100 million creating new wind turbine ports in northeast England, with a big renewables company announcing plans to make crucial parts in Teesside.

The two ports will be on Teesside and North Lincolnshire.

The next generation of wind turbines in the North Sea will be very different.

Larger Turbines

They will be larger and the blades will be bigger, so building them close to, where they will be installed is a sensible idea.

We are also very good at aerodynamics in the UK. This is the reason Airbus designs and builds wings in the UK.

Floating Turbines

The next generation of wind farms will be floating, as for some reason, they have a higher capacity factor.

I am personally pleased about this, as it appears they are based on a patented but failed design of floating oil production platform from the 1970s, where I performed the calculations on how to install them.

Some of these floating wind turbines can also be floated into port for major services and upgrades, which probably means we need local manufacturing of as many parts as possible.

Hydrogen Rather Than Electrical Connection

They will also create hydrogen, rather than electricity, by using a combination of wind turbine and hydrogen electrolyser.

As distances between shore and wind farm get longer, it is cheaper to use a gas pipe, rather than a DC electricity link.

Hydrogen can also be stored in worked out gas fields and also brought ashore in redundant pipelines.

The hydrogen electrolysers will probably be built in the world’s largest electrolyser factory in Rotherham, owned by ITM Power; a UK company.

Conclusion

As we are going to build almost 70 GW of offshore wind in the next few years, we’re going to need a turbines and I believe increasingly, they will be built in the UK.

So these two wind ports at Teesside and in Lincolnshire are a good idea.

March 11, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , | Leave a comment

Sale To Linde Of World’s Largest PEM Electrolyser

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release on the ITM Power web site.

This is the first paragraph.

ITM Power, the energy storage and clean fuel company, is pleased to announce the sale to Linde of a 24MW electrolyser to be installed at the Leuna Chemical Complex in Germany.

Note.

  1. Leuna is a few miles to the West of Leipzig.
  2. As it’s green hydrogen, I would hope it’s not powered with electricity from coal.

I bet they’re pleased.

I said a similar thing, when they got funding for an 8 MW monster, that I wrote about in Funding Award to Supply An 8MW Electrolyser.

The press release says this about the electrolyser.

This new 24 megawatt electrolyzer will produce green hydrogen to supply Linde’s industrial customers through the company’s existing pipeline network. In addition, Linde will distribute liquefied green hydrogen to refueling stations and other industrial customers in the region. The total green hydrogen being produced can fuel approximately six hundred fuel cell buses driving 40 million kilometers and saving up to 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide tailpipe emissions per year.

In Can The UK Have A Capacity To Create Five GW Of Green Hydrogen?, I said the following.

Ryse Hydrogen are building the Herne Bay electrolyser.

    • It will consume 23 MW of solar and wind power.
    • It will produce ten tonnes of hydrogen per day.

This would mean that the Leuna electrolyser could be producing nearly four thousand tonnes of hydrogen per year.

Does this mean that every tonne of hydrogen saves ten tonnes of carbon dioxide tailpipe emissions?

 

February 17, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , | 1 Comment

SSE Goes Global To Reap The Wind

The title of this article on This Is Money is Renewable Energy Giant SSE Launches Plan To Become Britain’s First Global Windfarm Business As it Invests Up To £15bn Over Next Decade.

The title is a good summary of their plans to build wind farms in Continental Europe, Denmark, Japan and the US, in addition to the UK and Ireland.

I can also see the company developing more integrated energy clusters using the following technologies.

  • Wind farms that generate hydrogen rather than electricity using integrated electrolysers and wind turbines, developed by companies like ITM Power and Ørsted.
  • Reusing of worked out gasfields and redundant gas pipelines.
  • Zero-carbon CCGT power stations running on Hydrogen.
  • Lots of Energy storage.

I talked about this type of integration in Batteries Could Save £195m Annually By Providing Reserve Finds National Grid ESO Trial.

In the related post, I talked about the Keadby cluster of gas-fired power stations, which are in large part owned by SSE.

Conclusion

I think that SSE could be going the way of Equinor and Ørsted and becoming a global energy company.

It is also interesting the BP and Shell are investing in renewable energy to match the two Scandinavian companies.

Big Oil seems to be transforming itself into Big Wind.

All these companies seem to lack grid-scale energy storage, although hydrogen can be generated and stored in worked-out gas fields.

So I would expect that some of the up-and-coming energy storage companies like Gravitricity, Highview Power and RheEnergise could soon have connections with some of these Big Wind companies.

 

 

February 14, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Batteries Could Save £195m Annually By Providing Reserve Finds National Grid ESO Trial

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Current News.

The title gives the findings of the Arenko-led trial.

What Is The National Grid Reserve Service?

It’s all about providing capacity for the National Grid Reserve Service, which is described in this Wikipedia entry. This is the introductory paragraph.

To balance the supply and demand of electricity on short timescales, the UK National Grid has contracts in place with generators and large energy users to provide temporary extra power, or reduction in demand. These reserve services are needed if a power station fails for example, or if forecast demand differs from actual demand. National Grid has several classes of reserve services, which in descending order of response time are: Balancing Mechanism (BM) Start-Up, Short-Term Operating Reserve, Demand Management and Fast Reserve.

The Wikipedia entry is very comprehensive.

A Collateral Benefit

This is a paragraph from the article.

Additionally, unlike CCGT plants, batteries do not need to be producing power in order to provide Reserve as they can charge when there is abundant renewable energy on the grid, and then wait to react when needed. As CCGT’s need to be producing power to provide this service, it can led to renewables switched off in favour of the more carbon intensive fossil fuel generation, to ensure Reserve is available if needed.

The article concludes that Reserve from Storage could help National Grid ESO’s reach their target of net-zero operation by 2025.

Could We Replace CCGT Plants With Batteries?

CCGT or combined cycle gas-turbine power plants are efficient ways to turn natural gas into electricity.

  • Typical sizes are around 800 MW.
  • They are reasonably quick and easy to build.
  • As their fuel comes by a pipeline, they don’t need to be connected to the rail network, unlike biomass and coal power plants.

Because they burn methane, they still emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide, although levels much less than an equivalent coal-fired power station.

In Energy In North-East Lincolnshire, I described the three Keadby power stations.

  • Keadby – In operation – 734 MW
  • Keadby 2 – Under construction – 840 MW
  • Keadby 3 – In planning – 910 MW

In total, these three power stations will have a capacity of 2484 MW.

By comparison, Hinckley Point C will have a capacity of 3200 MW.

Add Keadby 4 and the four CCGTs would provide more electricity, than Hinckley Point C.

I think it would be very difficult to replace a cluster of CCGT gas-fired power stations or a big nuclear power plant with the sort of batteries being deployed today. 2.5 to 3 GW is just so much electricity!

I do believe though, that instead of building a 3200 MW nuclear power plant, you could build a cluster of four 800 MW CCGTs.

But What About The Carbon Dioxide?

Using the Keadby cluster of CCGTs as an example.

  • Keadby 2 and Keadby 3 are being built to be upgraded with carbon-capture technology.
  • The HumberZero gas network will take the carbon dioxide away for  storage in worked-out gas fields in the North Sea.
  • Some carbon dioxide will be fed to salad vegetables and soft fruits in greenhouses, to promote growth.
  • Keadby 2 and Keadby 3 are being built to be able to run on hydrogen.
  • The HumberZero network will also be able to deliver hydrogen to fuel the power stations.

I’m certain we’ll see some of the next generation of wind turbines delivering their energy from hundreds of miles offshore, in the form of hydrogen by means of a pipe.

The technology is being developed by ITM Power and Ørsted, with the backing of the UK government.

  • Redundant gas pipelines can be used, to bring the hydrogen to the shore
  • The engineering of piping hydrogen to the shore is well-understood.
  • Redundant gas pipelines can be used if they already exist.
  • Gas networks can be designed, so that depleted gas fields can be used to store the gas offshore, in times when it is not needed.

But above all gas pipelines cost less than DC  electricity links, normally used to connect turbines to the shore.

I can see very complicated, but extremely efficient networks of wind turbines, redundant gas fields and efficient CCGT power stations connected together by gas pipelines, which distribute natural gas, hydrogen and carbon dioxide as appropriate.

Could Offshore Hydrogen Storage And CCGTs Provide The Reserve Power

Consider.

  • Using a CCGT power station  to provide Reserve Power is well understood.
  • Suppose there is a large worked out gasfield, near to the power station, which has been repurposed to be used for hydrogen storage.
  • The hydrogen storage is filled using hydrogen created by offshore wind turbines, that have built in electrolysers, like those being developed by ITM Power and Ørsted.
  • One of more CCGTs could run as needed using hydrogen from the storage as fuel.
  • A CCGT power station running on hydrogen is a zero-carbon power station.

Effectively, there would be a giant battery, that stored offshore wind energy as hydrogen.

I can see why the UK government is helping to fund this development by ITM Power and Ørsted.

Could We See Cradle-To-Grave Design Of Gas Fields?

I suspect that when a gas field is found and the infrastructured is designed it is all about what is best in the short term.

Suppose a gas field is found reasonably close to the shore or in an area like the Humber, Mersey or Tees Estuaries, where a lot of carbon dioxide is produced by industries like steel, glass and chemicals!

Should these assessments be done before any decisions are made about how to bring the gas ashore?

  • After being worked out could the gas field be used to store carbon dioxide?
  • After being worked out could the gas field be used to store natural gas or hydrogen?
  • Is the area round the gas field suitable for building a wind farm?

Only then could a long-term plan be devised for the gas-field and the infrastructure can be designed accordingly.

I suspect that the right design could save a lot of money, as infrastructure was converted for the next phase of its life.

Conclusion

It does appear that a lot of money can be saved.

But my rambling through the calculations shows the following.

Wind Turbines Generating Hydrogen Give Advantages

These are some of the advantages.

  • Hydrogen can be transported at less cost.
  • Hydrogen is easily stored if you have have a handy worked-out gas field.
  • The technology is well-known.

Hydrogen can then be converted back to electricity in a CCGT power station

The CCGT Power Station Operates In A Net-Zero Carbon Manner

There are two ways, the CCGT station can be run.

  • On natural gas, with the carbon-dioxide captured for use or storage.
  • On hydrogen.

No carbon-dioxide is released to the atmosphere in either mode.

The Hydrogen Storage And The CCGT Power Station Or Stations Is Just A Giant Battery

This may be true, but it’s all proven technology, that can be used as the Power Reserve.

Power Networks Will Get More Complicated

This will be inevitable, but giant batteries from various technologies will make it more reliable.

 

 

 

February 12, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Denmark To Build ‘First Energy Island’ In North Sea

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first three paragraphs

A project to build a giant island providing enough energy for three million households has been given the green light by Denmark’s politicians.

The world’s first energy island will be as big as 18 football pitches (120,000sq m), but there are hopes to make it three times that size.

It will serve as a hub for 200 giant offshore wind turbines.

It seems to follow the bigger-is-better offshore principle, I talked about in Crown Estate’s Auction Of Seabed For Wind Farms Attracts Sky-High Bids.

The BBC article says this about the energy generation of the island and its turbines.

The new island would supply an initial 3 gigawatts, rising to 10 over time.

For comparison the coal-fired Fiddlers Ferry power station on the banks of the Mersey near Widnes was a 2 gigawatt station and the nuclear Hinkley Point C will hopefully generate 3.2 GW.

These are my thoughts.

The Location Of The Island

According to the BBC, the Danes are being secretive about the location of the island, but the BBC does say this about the location of island.

While there is some secrecy over where the new island will be built, it is known that it will be 80km into the North Sea. Danish TV said that a Danish Energy Agency study last year had marked two areas west of the Jutland coast and that both had a relatively shallow sea depth of 26-27m.

According to Wikipedia, Denmark has a sizeable offshore gas industry and I did wonder, if the island would be built near to a large worked out field, so that the field could be used for one of the following.

  • Store hydrogen produced on the island from surplus electricity.
  • Store carbon dioxide produced on the mainland.

But the gas fields are further than 80 km. from the shore being closer to where Danish, German, Dutch and British waters meet.

Hydrogen And The Island

In ITM Power and Ørsted: Wind Turbine Electrolyser Integration, I talked about a joint project between, electrolyser company; ITM Power of the UK and turbine manufacturer and developer; Ørsted of Denmark.

The post was based on this press release from ITM Power.

These were points from the press release.

  • Costs can be saved as hydrogen pipes are more affordable than underwater power cables.
  • It also stated that wind turbines produce DC electricity and that is ideal for driving electrolysers.

So will the island be connected to the mainline by a hydrogen gas line?

  • Cost will play a big part.
  • I don’t like the concept of electrical cables on the sea floor,
  • Gas pipes have been laid everywhere in the North Sea.
  • A hydrogen connection might better support different types of future turbines.
  • If there is a worked-out gas-field nearby, the hydrogen can be stored offshore until it is needed.

I think it is a distinct possibility.

Hydrogen could be generated in one of two ways.

  • Wind turbines based on the ITM Power/Ørsted design could generate the hydrogen directly and a gas network could deliver it to the island.
  • Conventional turbines could generate electricity and an electrical network could deliver it to the island, where a large electrolyser would convert water into hydrogen.

Both methods would be better suited to a hydrogen connection to the mainland.

Connection To Other Islands

The Dutch are already talking about a North Sea Wind Power Hub on their section of the Dogger Bank.

So could we see a network of islands in the Southern North Sea?

  • Some like the Danish island would support a network of wind turbines.
  • Some would store energy as hydrogen in worked-out gas fields.
  • Some would store captured carbon dioxide in worked out gas fields.
  • Some would supply hydrogen to onshore hydrogen and carbon dioxide networks like HumberZero.
  • Islands could be linked by electrical cables or gas pipelines.
  • Gas pipelines would allow both hydrogen or carbon dioxide to be stored or moved

The North Sea could become the largest power station in the continent of Europe, or even the world.

 

 

 

February 6, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , | Leave a comment

Crown Estate’s Auction Of Seabed For Wind Farms Attracts Sky-High Bids

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Times.

This is the opening paragraph.

An auction of seabed rights to build offshore wind farms around England and Wales has attracted frenzied bidding that could be worth hundreds of millions of pounds a year to the Treasury and the Queen.

I don’t find this surprising.

Bigger Seems Better Offshore

Wind turbine technology is getting better and much larger. It also seems that the new larger floating turbines are much more efficient and generate power for a greater proportion of the day.

My project management software helped to harvest North Sea Oil and I have been told by many in the industry, that North Sea Oil really took off when platforms and the equipment like cranes used to build them got truly enormous.

I feel, we could be seeing the same size effect happening as we harvest the wind!

Hydrogen And Wind Power

The latest development is not to generate electricity, but to use it in the turbine to generate hydrogen, which is then piped to the shore.

  • The UK Government is funding this technology in part with a grant to ITM Power.
  • I wrote about the technology in ITM Power and Ørsted: Wind Turbine Electrolyser Integration.
  • Existing gas networks can be reconfigured to bring the hydrogen to the shore.
  • Piping hydrogen costs less than cabling electricity.
  • Hydrogen networks are being built at several places in the UK, to fuel homes, power stations and industry like steel-making and petrochemicals.

Could all this explain Big Oil’s involvement?

Do they want to exchange fossil fuels for green hydrogen?

They certainly know how to distribute it.

Energy Storage

For my own investments, I’m looking at energy storage, where the UK has at least three promising new ideas, all of whom have had Government grants.

  • Gravitricity
  • Highview Power
  • ReEnergise

The Government has also indirectly-backed Cornish Lithium

 

February 6, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , | 5 Comments

EU Backs Orsted Team On Green Hydrogen Initiative

The title of this post, is the same as that as that of this article on renews.biz.

This is the sub-title of the article.

European Commission Funding For The Oyster Project That Also Includes Siemens Gamesa, Element Energy and ITM Power

There is a press release on ITM Power’s web site.

This paragraph sums up the project.

ITM Power, Ørsted, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, and Element Energy have been awarded EUR 5 million in funding from The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH2-JU) under the European Commission to demonstrate and investigate a combined wind turbine and electrolyser system designed for operation in marine environments.

This is said about the design of the electrolyser.

The electrolyser system will be designed to be compact, to allow it to be integrated with a single offshore wind turbine, and to follow the turbine’s production profile. Furthermore, the electrolyser system will integrate desalination and water treatment processes, making it possible to use seawater as a feedstock for the electrolysis process.

It looks like it will be a standalone turbine, that instead of producing electricity it will produce hydrogen.

This paragraph gives the objective of the project.

The OYSTER project partners share a vision of hydrogen being produced from offshore wind at a cost that is competitive with natural gas (with a realistic carbon tax), thus unlocking bulk markets for green hydrogen making a meaningful impact on CO2 emissions, and facilitating the transition to a fully renewable energy system in Europe.

The project will run from 2021 to 2024.

When I first heard about creating hydrogen offshore with a combined wind-turbine and electrolyser, I thought this could be the way to go.

It’s certainly a way to produce large quantities of green hydrogen.

But I also feel, the process has a serious rival in Shell’s Blue Hydrogen Process, which uses a catalyst to split methane into hydrogen and carbon dioxide.

Shell will need uses for the carbon dioxide or worked-out gas fields to store it.

January 9, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , | 1 Comment