Wind- and solar energy sees significant growth. Renewable energy production is not constant but varies through the day and season. This is not necessarily consistent with the electrical needs at a given time and makes storage off excess energy desirable. Hydrogen is in this context suggested as an energy storage medium- The hydrogen can then be converted back to electricity and/or exported to a hydrogen market in growth. Renewable energy can be used to produce hydrogen through electrolyses where water is split into hydrogen and oxygen gas with little or no greenhouse gas emissions.
Ocean based energy saves precious land areas, contributes to reduced conflict and in the case of wind energy; more wind. Ocean based energy simultaneously increases the costs associated with among others; the electrical transmission system. By moving hydrogen production offshore, parts of these costs can be saved resulting in lower hydrogen production costs.
Nexans therefore proposed to develop energy production which integrate both hydrogen and electricity. Both can then be transferred ashore by an umbilical which consist of multiple elements including tubes and electrical cables. Such umbilical?s are already a part of Nexans Norway?s product portfolio and is produced in its Halden factory. The existing products is designed for oil and gas application, and is not necessarily suitable for hydrogen transport when using the existing materials.
Hydrogen is a small atom and diffuses into materials including metals. Metal can then become brittle- A phenomenon called Hydrogen embrittlement. Additionally, transport of large amounts of hydrogen imply large transport pressures which again causes significant load on the pipe. Altogether this puts on large demands the materials. Nexans will therefore collaborate with Sintef Industry and develop the knowledge of how hydrogen affects relevant materials. This will be investigated by advanced experimental methods ranging from nano- to macroscale.
Renewable energy is projected to grow by over 1.2 TW between 2019 and 2025. The renewable energy growth primarily consists of energy sources with high fluctuations in their production such as wind and solar energy. This will increasingly cause peak power production exceeding the grid capacity or local demand. One possibility to utilize the energy created during production peaks is to introduce an intermediate energy storage unit.
Hydrogen a promising energy carrier mediums and currently the market demand for hydrogen is set to increase significantly: several offshore wind players propose hydrogen production in tandem with offshore energy production. This could effectively be used to capture excess energy production. Hydrogen could also have a prominent role in conjuncture with offshore oil&gas activity, where reformation from hydrocarbons coupled with CO2 capture and storage (CCS) can be used to produce green hydrogen.
There are several challenges inherent with hydrogen. First, hydrogen gas has one of the lowest energy to volume ratios and consequently needs to be highly compressed or liquified to compete with existing energy carriers. High pressure transport under hydrogen exposure puts very stringent material requirements and the issue gets even more challenging in offshore environment. Specifically, hydrogen can embrittle the material leading to catastrophic failure. For this reason, a deep material understanding is necessary in order to develop the necessary infrastructure.
In this sense, the underlying idea of the Hydro-El project is to establish a clear assessment methodology for material selection to be used in hydrogen transport umbilical infrastructure both with or without simultaneous capacity to transport electricity. Succeeding in the development of the underlying idea will not only result in facilitating and reducing the cost of environmental friendly energy production, but will also open to new market and application areas for Nexans.