Visions for Heligoland

AquaCampus research platform, © AquaVentus Association
© AquaVentus Association

Electrolytic green hydrogen from offshore wind

Heligoland could, in future, become the new focal point for offshore hydrogen from the North Sea. The remote German island occupies a strategic central position in the German Bight and has excellent port infrastructure, making it ideally placed for a proposed hydrogen hub and liquid carrier supply chain. Under the multipart AquaVentus scheme, initiatives will be rolled out that incorporate the entire hydrogen value chain, including transportation to the mainland.

Green hydrogen from offshore wind is set to create opportunities in Heligoland in years to come. That’s according to plans outlined by the 65 international parties involved in the AquaVentus project. Participants include large corporations such as RWE, Shell, Gasunie and Equinor, as well as the Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility (IKEM), which is based in Germany. The fossil fuel sector, in particular, sees the project as a means of securing the future of the industry for the long term.

Inspiration for the name AquaVentus can be traced back to the first German offshore wind farm AlphaVentus which went online in 2010 and is situated off the coast of the East Frisian island of Borkum. The AquaVentus Association was founded 10 years later, in mid-2020, and has grown steadily ever since. Even Heligoland’s local authority can be counted among the members of the scheme. “The continuous growth in the number of international organizations from relevant fields shows that AquaVentus, along with its vision, has become a blueprint for green hydrogen production via offshore wind electrolysis,” Jörg Singer, chairman of the AquaVentus Association, was pleased to state. An industrial engineer by training and now also Heligoland’s mayor, Singer had previously worked on projects in China and the US before returning to the island. The sheer scale of the AquaVentus initiative, however, is still likely to be new territory for him.
To understand the four subprojects that make up the North Sea scheme, it helps to have some knowledge of Latin, given their names: AquaPrimus, AquaPortus, AquaDuctus and AquaSector. In addition, the proposals include hydrogen-based power units for various types of marine vessels – a project known by the moniker AquaNavis – and a research platform called AquaCampus.

Kicking off the scheme will be, as the name suggests, AquaPrimus. This early-stage pilot project initially envisages two offshore hydrogen wind turbines in the waters off the rocky island’s coast. In this case, the electrolyzer will be positioned at the base of the turbine. The two pilot installations, with a generating capacity of 14 megawatts, will later be connected via the AquaDuctus pipeline to the offshore test site AquaCampus located in the southern area of Heligoland. Test operation is expected to start in 2025. The trial will last one year and form part of preparations for wider-scale rollout. When the two 14-megawatt turbines start regular operations, they will supply Heligoland with hydrogen. Spokeswoman Benita Stalmann explained that in the longer term, it is yet to be decided whether green hydrogen from the proposed AquaSector wind farm, with 300-megawatt electrolyzer capacity, will be produced decentrally in this same way or if it will encompass a centralized solution involving an electrolyzer platform within the farm. Both options are currently under consideration.

…Read more in the latest H2-International

Author: Niels Hendrik Petersen

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