Shell Exploring World’s Largest Green Hydrogen Project

Oil major joins a feasibility study that could lead to gigawatts of Dutch offshore wind being built purely for the manufacture of green hydrogen.

Eemshaven is the focus of plans for a green hydrogen cluster in the Netherlands. (Credit: Groningen Seaports)

Eemshaven is the focus of plans for a green hydrogen cluster in the Netherlands. (Credit: Groningen Seaports)

Oil major Shell has started feasibility work on what would be the largest green hydrogen project in the world.

The plans would see 3 to 4 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity established in the North Sea by 2030 purely for the manufacture of green hydrogen. Electrolyzers will be based in Eemshaven, along the northern coast of the Netherlands, and potentially offshore as well.

The project could be expanded to 10 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2040 dedicated to green hydrogen production.

Shell Netherlands, Dutch gas grid operator Gasunie and the port of Groningen are the founding partners of the NortH2 project, with the trio looking for others to join the consortium during the one-year feasibility study. They hope to develop a “European Hydrogen Valley” cluster.

Gasunie will develop the network infrastructure required for the storage and distribution of hydrogen.

“This project offers opportunities throughout the entire hydrogen chain,” said Marjan van Loon, president-director of Shell Netherlands, in a statement.

“In order to realize this project, we will need several new partners,” van Loon said. “Together we will have to pioneer and innovate to bring together all the available knowledge and skills that are required. The energy transition calls for guts, boldness and action.”

Critical to a zero-emissions pathway

Shell already has a 20 percent stake in a consortium building around 730 megawatts of offshore wind off the coast of the Netherlands. The country’s next 700-megawatt auction is scheduled for April this year.

The Netherlands has an offshore wind target of 11.5 gigawatts by 2030. If the NortH2 plan comes to fruition, more than a third of that capacity would have to be contracted exclusively for green hydrogen production.

Shell previously told GTM that subsidy support would be beneficial for the build-out of the green hydrogen economy. Research by Wood Mackenzie analyst Ben Gallagher indicates that power prices of $30 per megawatt-hour and aggressive utilization rates would be needed for the electrolyzers to be competitive with existing hydrogen production methods.

In the joint statement announcing the collaboration, the trio added a caveat: “NortH2’s partners anticipate that the initial project phases may require European and national grants available for the decarbonization of energy.”

The outline document of the EU’s trillion-euro Green Deal framework highlight “clean hydrogen” infrastructure and research as priority areas.

Hydrogen is considered an essential component for any credible pathway for industrial nations to reaching net-zero emissions. The Netherlands has previously proposed a 95 percent emissions reduction target, with debate on a national net-zero goal ongoing. A Dutch carbon tax, that would cover emissions from producing hydrogen using methane, is expected to reach €125 ($137) per ton of CO2 equivalent emissions by 2030.

Dutch research organization TNO estimates that 1 ton of hydrogen produced from methane leads to 10 tons of CO2 equivalent.

By 2040, NortH2 could be producing 800,000 tons of green hydrogen, making the carbon tax savings a €1 billion opportunity in 2040, even if the carbon tax rate remains unchanged from 2030.

The market for green hydrogen

The initial plan is to deliver the hydrogen to industrial users in the Netherlands and further afield in northwest Europe.

Gasunie has already installed a 1-megawatt electrolyzer and is working with SkyNRG on a proposed 20-megawatt electrolyzer in nearby Delfzijl. That will use green hydrogen to manufacture renewable methanol as a jet fuel replacement.

Chemport Europe, in Groningen, is responsible for 15 percent of the Dutch chemical industry’s output.

The U.K.’s Drax biomass power plant, together with Equinor and National Grid, is planning the addition of carbon capture and storage and hydrogen manufacturing. The hydrogen would be pumped along the Humber estuary, a major industrial hub.

The global market for hydrogen (of all types) is currently 70 million tons. According to electrolyzer manufacturer ITM Power, only 1 million tons are used for energy rather than as an industrial feedstock. As well as being used for transport and heat, hydrogen can also be converted back to electricity.

The Belgian port of Ostend is planning a 50-megawatt electrolyzer, again powered by offshore wind, which it will then pair with a hydrogen-fired power plant demonstration project in 2022. The primary objective is to smooth out differences between Belgium’s marine renewables supply and power demand. SOURCE

Equinor: Floating Wind Farms a Natural Fit for Oil and Gas Companies

The Norwegian energy giant on Thursday unveiled a new climate roadmap, including plans to rapidly grow its renewables fleet.

Equinor’s floating Hywind Tampen project will be built 140 kilometers from the Norwegian coast. (Credit: Equinor)

The cost of floating wind farms is on a steeper decline than that of traditional offshore wind, with the emerging sector increasingly attractive to oil and gas companies, said Sebastian Bringsværd, head of floating wind development at Norwegian energy giant Equinor.

After years of industry anticipation, the floating wind market is finally gaining momentum in a commercially meaningful way. The goal, Bringsværd said, is to scale floating projects up to a comparable level as traditional projects, which are often 500 megawatts or larger, taking advantage of offshore wind’s huge economies of scale.

Just a few years ago that was an “ambitious” vision,” Bringsværd said. “Now I see that’s very realistic.”

In its annual report released on Thursday, Equinor, among Europe’s largest oil producers, laid out a new climate roadmap to keep it in line with the Paris Climate Accord, including plans to transform into a “global offshore wind major.”

Equinor, among Europe’s largest oil producers, intends to grow its fleet of renewable energy projects tenfold by 2026, to 4-6 gigawatts, on the way to 12-16 gigawatts by 2035. The Norwegian company, majority owned by the government, also pledged to halve the carbon intensity of its energy products by 2050.

Within the renewables sphere, Equinor carved out an early leadership position in the emerging floating wind sector, completing the industry’s first full-scale project several years ago, the 30-megawatt Hywind Scotland.

ACS Group’s 50-megawatt Kincardine Bay floating project, also off the coast of Scotland, will go into operation later this year, setting a new industry benchmark. And Equinor recently gave the green light to its 88-megawatt Hywind Tampen project off the coast of Norway, which will power two of its drilling operations upon its scheduled completion in 2022.

Hywind Tampen is a “stepping stone,” Bringsværd said. “It’s providing the scale we need to prove the cost reduction curve — and it’s reducing our carbon footprint from our oil and gas production.”

“The figure the industry is aiming for is around €40 to €60 [$44 to $66] per megawatt-hour by 2030,” he added.

While still a very expensive option for renewable power today, hovering around $250 per megawatt-hour by some estimates, floating turbines promise to unlock areas for wind development in waters too deep for regular monopile or jacket foundations. Among the technology’s obvious benefits is the ability for projects to tap the excellent wind resource often found far from shore while avoiding any visual impact from land.

In Hywind Scotland’s first two years of operation, it achieved a capacity factor of 56 percent. By comparison, the average for a U.K. offshore wind farm in 2018 was around 40 percent, according to government figures. Many onshore wind farms are at 30 percent or lower, and solar averages less than that.

California, France, Scotland and South Korea are all promising markets for floating offshore wind, Bringsværd said.

Wood Mackenzie expects 350 megawatts of floating offshore wind in operation by 2022 at various demonstration projects, and up to 10 gigawatts by 2030 with the right policy frameworks in place. Europe currently has a total of less than 50 megawatts of floating wind installed.

Sebastian Bringsværd, Equinor’s head of floating wind development. (Credit: Equinor)

“In terms of timing, we are more than 10 years behind [fixed bottom offshore wind]; in terms of costs, we’re ahead,” Bringsværd told GTM.

Equinor is also investing in traditional offshore wind, having last year won a contract for its 816-megawatt Empire Wind project in New York, as well as in onshore renewables. In its annual report released this week, Equinor said it plans to transform into a “global offshore wind major,” aiming for 12 to 16 gigawatts of installed renewable capacity by 2035.

Floating wind’s crossover appeal

Equinor is not alone among major energy companies in focusing on floating wind’s potential.

“Experienced developers are starting to position themselves more aggressively in the floating industry by forging alliances and building up floating wind pipelines,” Rolf Kragelund, director of global offshore wind at Wood Mackenzie, wrote this week.

Among the recent collaborations is WindPlus, which includes Repsol, Engie, EDP and floating wind technology firm Principle Power. Shell recently bolstered its capabilities with the acquisition of the floating wind developer Eolfi.

“So far, the commercialization of floating wind has been hampered by a Catch-22, where developers argue that capacity is needed to reduce the cost of floating wind, while governments argue that cost declines are needed for governments to allocate capacity to floating wind,” Kragelund wrote.

But there are signs the impasse is starting to break. The ScotWind seabed leasing round, out later this year, will include a carve-out for floating projects in Scottish waters, and broader momentum is building for the U.K. to do the same through its contracts for difference program.

France is backing floating wind projects in a dedicated tender, at least partially prompted by the need to quell local opposition to near-shore turbines.

Meanwhile, EDP and Norwegian oil services firm Aker are exploring the development of a 500-megawatt floating wind complex off the coast of Ulsan, South Korea. The City of Ulsan would cooperate with the development of a waterside supply chain base. Equinor is part of a consortium eyeing a 200-megawatt project, Donghae 1, in the same region, with a potential commissioning date of 2024.

The U.K., in particular, has advantages both in historical deployment and its native supply chain, Bringsværd said. The technology that underlies floating wind is not especially new, and many of the competencies are an even stronger match for the existing oil and gas supply chain than with fixed-bottom offshore wind, he said. SOURCE


We Need a Massive Climate War Effort—Now

Only major spending on clean energy R&D can save us.

Image result for mother jones: We Need a Massive Climate War Effort—Now

I’ll take a wild guess that you don’t need any convincing about the need for action on climate change. You know that since the start of the Industrial Revolution we’ve dumped more than 500 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere and we’re adding about 10 billion more each year. You know that global temperatures have risen 1 degree Celsius over the past century and we’re on track for 2 degrees within another few decades.

And you know what this means. It means more extreme weather. More hurricanes. More droughts. More flooding. More wildfires. More heat-related deaths. There will be more infectious disease as insects move ever farther north. The Northwest Passage will be open for much of the year. Sea levels will rise by several feet as the ice shelves of Greenland and the Antarctic melt, producing bigger storm swells and more intense flooding in low-lying areas around the world.

Some of this is already baked into our future, but to avoid the worst of it, climate experts widely agree that we need to get to net-zero carbon emissions entirely by 2050 at the latest. This is the goal of the Paris Agreement, and it’s one that every Democratic candidate for president has committed to. But how to get there?

Let’s start with the good news. About three-quarters of carbon emissions come from burning fossil fuels for power, and we already have the technology to make a big dent in that. Solar power is now price-competitive with the most efficient natural gas plants and is likely to get even cheaper in the near future. In 2019, Los Angeles signed a deal to provide 400 megawatts of solar power at a price under 4 cents per kilowatt-hour—including battery storage to keep that power available day and night. That’s just a start—it will provide only about 7 percent of electricity needed in Los Angeles—but for the first time it’s fully competitive with the current wholesale price of fossil fuel electricity in Southern California.

We devoted 30 percent of our economy to fight WWII—1,000 times what we spend on green tech.

Wind power—especially offshore wind—is equally promising. This means that a broad-based effort to build solar and wind infrastructure, along with a commitment to replace much of the world’s fossil fuel use with electricity, would go pretty far toward reducing global carbon emissions.

How far? Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that by 2050, wind and solar can satisfy 80 percent of electricity demand in most advanced countries. But due to inadequate infrastructure in some cases and lack of wind and sun in others, not all countries can meet this goal, which means that even with favorable government policies and big commitments to clean energy, the growth of wind and solar will probably provide only about half of the world’s demand for electricity by midcentury. “Importantly,” the Bloomberg analysts caution, “major progress in de-carbonization will also be required in other segments of the world’s economy to address climate change.” MORE

Mitsubishi Eyes Leading Position in Europe’s Energy Market With Eneco Acquisition

Offshore wind will be at the center of Mitsubishi’s growth plans in Europe as it leads an acquisition of Dutch utility Eneco.

offshore wind europe photoPhoto via papundits

A group led by Mitsubishi beat out other bidders including Shell in reaching a €4.1 billion ($4.5 billion) deal to buy Dutch energy company Eneco, which the Japanese conglomerate intends to make the centerpiece of its growth in the European energy market.

The winning consortium includes Mitsubishi, with an 80 percent stake, and Japanese utility Chubu, with the remaining 20 percent.
Owned by several dozen Dutch municipalities, Eneco is the second largest electricity supplier in the Netherlands and is also active in Germany and Belgium. The company operates about 2 gigawatts of wind capacity, roughly a quarter of it offshore, alongside nearly 300 megawatts of solar.
Mitsubishi is already a substantial investor in Europe’s electricity market, including a 20 percent stake in U.K. electricity supplier OVO. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, part of the Mitsubishi Group, is co-owner of offshore wind turbine manufacturer MHI Vestas.
Mitsubishi plans to transfer 400 megawatts of offshore wind assets to Eneco once the all-cash acquisition goes through.
Eneco offers “a platform to further grow in the European market, in which we intend to have a leading position in the energy transition,” Takehiko Kakiuchi, CEO of Mitsubishi Corporation, said in a press statement. MORE



Image result for middelgrunden wind farm

“Middelgrunden” Offshore Wind Farm:  Offshore wind farm in the strait between Denmark and Sweden. The towers are over 60m high, and the rotors are almost 80m in diameter. Each turbine can produce 2MW. Notice the second kayaker (for scale). PHOTO: Mads Prahm

Green municipalism offers solutions to the escalating climate catastrophe, pathways that both complement and could extend the Green New Deal being proposed by progressives in the UK Labour and US Democratic parties. A decentralised wind power revolution is already happening in Denmark and Scotland, where community ownership is delivering power to the people.


As the 21st century rolled in, Denmark created the world’s largest offshore wind farm: Middelgrunden. It consisted of 20 turbines, located four kilometers from Copenhagen, with a capacity of over 40 Megawatts. Since 2001, Middelgrunden has supplied approximately 4 percent of the Danish capital’s energy needs.

More impressively, Danish people co-created this wind farm. Ten of the 20 turbines are owned by a cooperative, while Ørsted, Denmark’s largest energy company, owns the other 10. “If you own shares in a project, when you look over at that turbine, with each turn of the blades, that’s cash to you,” local resident and energy expert Justin Gerdes told the Green Economy Coalition.

More than 50,000 people participated in the project, giving input into the sea wind farm’s location and design. Another 8,500 Danes invested directly and are now making a 7 percent return on their investments. Under consideration are plans to upgrade Middelgrunden with larger turbines that will help it generate even more power in the years to come.

Broad public involvement overcomes the negative spin about wind energy happening elsewhere across the world. I heard similar positive sentiments visiting other wind farms in Denmark, a country that harnesses the most wind power for electricity anywhere in the world. In 2017, it re-broke its own previous world record, taking 43 pecent of its electrical needs from the wind.


Denmark’s success is built on a number of factors. National policy has supported green municipalism. Since the 1970s oil shock, the country realised it needed to reduce its dependency on fossil fuel imports. Nuclear was originally mooted, but activists and engineers innovated to show how communally-owned wind meant they did not need dangerous nuclear fusion.

The government supported green innovation with tax breaks that incentivised households to buy into wind cooperatives. By 2001, 86 percent of wind energy came from cooperatives, which only dropped as multinationals like Ørsted realised the powerful potential and jumped into the market.

Three other ways that Denmark created communal wind was giving wind developments the right to connect and sell energy to the grid – both requiring that the electricity be bought, and guaranteeing a good price. In 2011, it established a law that all new wind must include 20 percent community ownership.

With support like that, no wonder wind power is so popular in Denmark.


Across the North Sea, Scotland also showcases how communities can harness wind power to great effect.  MORE

Renewables ‘have won the race’ against coal and are starting to beat natural gas

Meanwhile, the president remains clueless about the clean energy revolution.


‘Spectacular’ price drops for clean energy obliterate the cost arguments against Green New Deal

Republicans push phony attack on Green New Deal’s cost, ignore ‘tens of trillions’ in benefits.


Opponents of serious climate action are routinely using a nonsensical $93 trillion dollar cost projection to attack the Green New Deal — an effort to mobilize the U.S. economy to shift away from fossil fuels as fast as technologically possible to preserve the livable climate that has made modern civilization possible — even though the figure has been roundly debunked by fact checkers.

The reality is that the price of what are called “core” clean energy technologies — including solar power, onshore and offshore wind, and batteries — have seen “spectacular gains in cost-competitiveness” in just the last year, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) report released Tuesday.

Modernizing and decarbonizing the country’s aging energy infrastructure now has so many economic, environmental, and health benefits that the overall benefit of strong climate action would be enormous. notes that, by itself, “the cost of climate change could easily balloon into the tens of trillions” for this country based on recent research. The National Climate Assessment (NCA) by hundreds of the country’s top scientists — approved by the Trump administration in November — warns that a do-nothing climate policy will end up costing Americans more than a half-trillion dollars per year in increased sickness and death, coastal property damages, loss of worker productivity, and other damages.

And so the biggest benefit of the Green New Deal would be avoiding those costs. MORE


More bad news for coal: Wind and solar are getting cheaper

Report says offshore wind could beat onshore wind on cost


Onshore wind is one of the cheapest sources of renewable power. However, without change to planning restrictions, Cornwall Insight estimates offshore wind is likely to surpass onshore wind power to be the new source of cheap renewable energy in less than 10 years.

Offshore wind has seen significant innovations, such as higher turbines with longer blades, allowing it to capture more of the wind.

Onshore wind is one of the cheapest sources of renewable power. However, without change to planning restrictions, Cornwall Insight estimates offshore wind is likely to surpass onshore wind power to be the new source of cheap renewable energy in less than 10 years.

Offshore wind has seen significant innovations, such as higher turbines with longer blades, allowing it to capture more of the wind.

The levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of offshore wind could fall below onshore wind by 2028. The projections are based on capital costs by technology, fixed and variable operational costs, expected hurdle rates, and locational factors such as transmission losses and connection fees, and using the current load factors for offshore wind at 58.4% and onshore wind at 38%. MORE


9 Renewable Energy Highlights of 2018

Image result for Wind farm with solar panels in southern California. 4kodiak / E+ / Getty Images

Despite the Trump administration’s ongoing attempts to prop up coal and undermine renewables—at FERCEPA and through tariffs and the budget process—2018 should instead be remembered for the surge in momentum toward a clean energy economy. Here are nine storylines that caught my attention this past year and help illustrate the unstoppable advancement of renewable energy and other modern grid technologies. MORE