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World-First Offshore Hydrogen Production Project Kicks Off in the Atlantic

July 17, 2023 by Shannon Cuthrell

A world-first offshore wind-powered green hydrogen pilot project recently started producing its first kilograms of hydrogen in the Atlantic Ocean.

A world-first offshore wind and green hydrogen production system recently started churning out its first kilograms of output in the Atlantic Ocean. 

 

Sealhyfe can produce up to 1 megawatt of hydrogen power per day

Sealhyfe can produce up to 1 megawatt of hydrogen power per day. Image used courtesy of Lhyfe
 

The floating platform comprises an area of less than 2,152 square feet and can produce up to 400 kilograms of green hydrogen daily, equivalent to around 1 megawatt (MW) of power. The production pilot unit was recently towed to the offshore testing site below a wind turbine about 12.4 miles off the west coast of France. It was then linked to a subsea connection hub. 

Several companies and organizations contributed technologies to the system: The floating platform, called WAVEGEM, was designed by French engineering firm GEPS Techno to keep the unit stable several miles out at sea. It was connected to the SEM-REV offshore testing hub, built by the French engineering school Central Nantes and operated by the European offshore testing center OPEN-C Foundation, which currently has five test sites in France. SEM-REV is already connected to a floating wind turbine, called FLOATGEN, from France-based BW Ideol. 

The project is headed by France-based hydrogen producer Lhyfe, which introduced the world’s first industrial-scale green hydrogen facility linked to a wind farm in 2021. And, as EE Power covered earlier this year, the company also recently teamed up with Swiss tech giant ABB and German offshore wind firm Skyborn Renewables on an offshore wind-powered green hydrogen production facility in Sweden. 

 

The Sealhyfe platform was towed to its designation near an offshore wind turbine off the Port of Saint-Nazaire in May 2023

The Sealhyfe platform was towed to its designation near an offshore wind turbine off the Port of Saint-Nazaire in May 2023. Image used courtesy of Lhyfe
 

Sealhyfe’s World-First Debut

Sealhyfe was commissioned in 2022 as the world’s first offshore green hydrogen production pilot system on a floating platform. In the months prior, Lhyfe and its partners designed and assembled all the technology needed to produce low-carbon hydrogen offshore, including a 1 MW electrolyzer from Plug Power, a New York-based developer of hydrogen fuel cell systems.  

It took eight months to moor Sealhyfe at a site in the Port of Saint-Nazaire on France’s west coast. There, the platform underwent hundreds of benchmarking tests to gauge its precise performance compared to results from the second phase of the trial, an analysis aided by the thousands of sensors installed on the unit. 

Lhyfe developed the software and algorithm to remotely manage the unit, which will operate autonomously in connection with SEM-REV’s subsea hub. All systems were also optimized to handle the extreme conditions commonplace miles out at sea, reducing the need for maintenance. 

 

Video used courtesy of Lhyfe

 

The project’s next step involves developing functions to manage the platform’s movement and environmental stresses under harsh conditions. 

Relatedly, Lhyfe also announced it is coordinating a Hydrogen Offshore Production for Europe (HOPE) project with eight European partners. The project received a $22.4 million grant from the European Commission to build a large-scale, 10 MW hydrogen production unit in the North Sea by 2026. The hydrogen will be exported to shore via a hydrogen pipeline and then compressed and transported to customers. 

The so-called “power-to-x” market, featuring novel systems combining offshore wind and green hydrogen capabilities, is slated to grow substantially as several demonstrations are underway or planned for the coming years, such as Ørsted’s 2 MW H2RES demonstrator in Denmark and Vattenfall’s HT1 pilot project in Scotland.