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        FIEKView:Offshore wind integration with hydrogen production could boost the effectiveness of carbon reduction
        IEKView:離岸風電整合製氫 可提高減碳效益
        • 2023/05/31
        • 3034
        • 49

        Net zero is currently the most important issue for the development of industries and societies. More than 100 countries have announced their timetables for achieving net zero. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has also unveiled key strategies for net zero and include the increase of renewable energy and the development of hydrogen energy. Factors such as the Russia-Ukraine war have heightened awareness among governments of the need for energy independence. All these factors have contributed to a rising interest in renewables and hydrogen. 

        Hydrogen, in particular, is considered the last mile in the race to net zero. Taiwan’s Pathway to Net-Zero Emissions in 2050, published in March 2022, also lists the development of renewables and hydrogen as a necessary means to achieving net zero.

        In addition to being used to generate electricity and in fuel cells, hydrogen can be synthesized into zero-carbon ammonia or petrochemical products such as renewable methane. Green value can be further enhanced if mass production of hydrogen is achieved using renewable energy.

        Currently, hydrogen (either gray or blue hydrogen) is produced using fossil fuels. However, low-carbon or zero-carbon hydrogen (green hydrogen) manufactured with renewable energy will be the mainstream in the future. The priority now is on the use of water electrolysis powered by onshore wind or solar photovoltaic energy. The use of offshore wind power for hydrogen production is still in its infancy. That said, many countries and industry players have started and are developing different models.

        For example, the Dolphyn project, chaired by Environment Resource Management (ERM), a U.K.-headquartered sustainability consulting firm, is a project aiming to develop an integrated system of floating offshore wind turbines for hydrogen production in the North Sea. The hydrogen produced is sent ashore via existing natural gas pipelines. There are also some technology demonstration projects such as H2RES in Copenhagen, Denmark. This project uses equipment with a production capacity of up to one ton of hydrogen per day, integrates with transportation vehicles and conducts a variety of tests and showcases different features.

        The SeaH2Land project in the Netherlands is an industrial-oriented project for the development of relevant business models and infrastructure. The project owner Orsted integrates resources from different countries and works with strategic partners including Dutch and Belgian port management authorities and hydrogen buyers in oil refineries, steel and petrochemical industries. The plan is to construct onshore electrolysis facilities powered by offshore wind, and lay hydrogen pipelines to supply manufacturers in adjacent industrial zones. The vision is to create a Hydrogen Valley industry ecosystem. Going forward, the system can also be connected to existing natural gas pipelines to extend the hydrogen supply to industry clusters further afield.

        NortH2 in the Netherlands is a project centrally coordinated by Shell, which is attempting to integrate the industry players involved in the production, storage, transportation and use of hydrogen and the port authorities for the planning and construction of a hydrogen network in the Netherlands and northern Germany. It aims to create a comprehensive value chain around the use of offshore wind for hydrogen production. Currently, the technology for offshore hydrogen production is yet to mature, so the chief consideration is on how to connect with onshore hydrogen production to reduce costs. Meanwhile, locating the site in close proximity to industrial zones will be important for ensuring a stable supply of hydrogen. It must also be close to a port for the deployment of facilities to enhance the efficiency of hydrogen import/export and ship utilization.

        However, Dutch-model will be necessary to take heed of the different environmental conditions. For example, the participants in the Dutch projects for the transition to green hydrogen are mostly multinationals in traditional industries or affiliates of large conglomerates who have more scope to undertake experimental measures for carbon reduction. Project sites are also closer and better connected to ports compared with the situation in Taiwan, and hence the project is more likely to achieve commercilized in the short term.

        Taiwan’s energy development plan sees a gradual increase in the renewable energy mix, of which offshore wind is a big element. Provided there is sufficient green electricity, offshore wind will surely be the good option for the domestic production of hydrogen. In this context, it is necessary to think about supporting measures. In particular, electricity pricing is a major determinant of hydrogen production cost. The electricity purchase and sale mechanism and the accompanying mechanisms for domestic industries must be taken into account to identify the strategic model suitable for Taiwan.

        Offshore wind powered hydrogen production around the world is still in its infancy. Taiwan may develop and validate feasible technologies and business models based on its domestic conditions. It could even seek to export them for global business opportunities. International connections can be made through demonstration projects and commercial ventures. Industry momentum can be ramped up in the meantime under industrial policies and regulatory frameworks, to create advantages for Taiwan’s hydrogen-producing offshore wind and enhance the effectiveness of carbon reduction in Taiwan.

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