France: Pilot Project For Offshore Hydrogen Production Successfully Completes Trial

As part of the energy transition, the expansion of offshore wind energy is increasingly focussing on direct hydrogen production at sea in addition to electricity production. The nuclear nation of France is at the forefront of this trend.

One of the global pioneers of green hydrogen production is the French company Lhyfe, which is pursuing an offshore pilot project for hydrogen production with Sealhyfe. In June 2023, the Sealhyfe platform equipped with an electrolyser reached an important milestone for the future of the sector with the production of the first offshore hydrogen at the site in the Atlantic. The offshore test phase has now been completed.

Sealhyfe platform has achieved set targets

With the launch of the world’s first offshore hydrogen production pilot project, Lhyfe aims to demonstrate the technical feasibility of offshore hydrogen production and gain the operational experience required for rapid scaling.

The company has therefore tested its floating Sealhyfe platform, which is capable of producing up to 400 kilograms of hydrogen per day, offshore in the Atlantic after extensive testing in the port of Nantes Saint-Nazaire.

For this purpose, the system installed on the floating platform of the French company GEPS Techno SAS (Wavegem platform) and equipped with a 1 MW electrolyser from Plug Power was towed to the offshore test site SEM-REV, 20 kilometres off the coast of Le Croisic (France), on 19 May 2023 and connected to the floating offshore wind turbine Floatgen (2 MW) via the underwater hub.

After several months at sea, where the Sealhyfe platform underwent a series of tests in real conditions during different weather situations, Lhyfe has now brought it back to the harbour of Nantes Saint-Nazaire. During the offshore tests, the Sealhyfe platform recorded extensive data, which is now being analysed and evaluated. Initial findings should be available in January 2024.

“We’re extremely proud to have brought this unique experimentation to a successful conclusion, and to have taken a new step on the road to producing hydrogen offshore,” says Matthieu Guesné, founder and CEO of Lhyfe, welcoming the successful completion of the offshore test phase. “We’re already benefiting from the experience we’ve gained and putting it to good use in our next steps towards offshore production. The production of hydrogen at sea is now a reality, and the countdown to scale up has begun,” continues Guesné.

Sealhyfe findings to give follow-up project HOPE a development boost

The results from the Sealhyfe platform will also be utilised in the EU’s HOPE project, particularly as part of the next stage in the development of offshore hydrogen production. The project, which was selected by the European Commission as part of the European Clean Hydrogen Partnership and will receive a grant totalling 20 million euros, is being coordinated by Lhyfe as part of a consortium of nine partners.

With the HOPE project, Lhyfe and its partners are aiming to commercialise offshore hydrogen production. From 2026, the plant with an electrolysis capacity of 10 MW should be able to produce up to four tonnes of green hydrogen per day at sea, which will be transported ashore by pipeline, then compressed and delivered to customers. Lhyfe believes that the findings from the Sealhyfe project can give HOPE a huge boost.

Lhyfe plans to build 210 MW electrolyser in the port Nantes Saint-Nazaire

Lhyfe has also announced that it has won the tender from the port of Nantes Saint-Nazaire for the development of a large-scale green hydrogen production facility.

As part of this project, Lhyfe will build a plant with a production capacity of up to 85 tonnes of green hydrogen per day (installed electrolysis capacity of 210 MW) to the north of the bulk port terminal. The plant is scheduled to be operational by 2028.

The project is intended to contribute to the decarbonisation of the industrial port complex and maritime transport. It is in line with the action programme for the development of a “Low Carbon Industrial Zone” (ZIBaC). An objective and a roadmap have been drawn up to transform the Loire estuary into a low-carbon energy centre.

The implementation of the project still depends on the granting of operating licences and building permits as well as investment decisions.

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