400km hydrogen pipeline planned for North Sea

Plans have been revealed for a new 400km pipeline underneath the North Sea to transport hydrogen produced by offshore wind farms to the continent.

Proposals have been put forward by gas transmission firms Gascade and Fluxys that would see the 400km-long AquaDuctus line initially connect from German windfarm SEN-1, which is situated 150km north of the German coastline at Helgoland.

According to the firms, by 2035 the line would develop into a major hydrogen corridor transporting up to 1 million tonnes of hydrogen a year. According to the study, the potential for hydrogen production in the German and European North Sea is 100GW per year.

The European Commission has been asked to grant the new pipeline a “project of common interest status”, which would give it benefits from accelerated permitting procedures and funding, including access to a €5.8bn (£5.18bn) EU connectivity fund. If built in full, the pipeline will be able to connect to other planned hydrogen flows, and could connect to the UK in northern England and Scotland.

If given the go-ahead, the plans could provide a blueprint for schemes off the UK coast. The UK is currently a leader in offshore wind generation, having more wind capacity installed than any other country in the world.

A number of UK construction firms including Balfour Beatty have eyed opportunities in hydrogen in the coming years, with chief executive Leo Quinn stating that he saw both offshore wind and energy transition – which includes hydrogen – as a key part of the firm’s revenue. The pipeline plans also come amid a Whitehall drive to turn away from use of overseas gas and increase energy efficiency.

Commenting on the pipeline, Gascade managing director Christoph von dem Bussche, said: “Our specific plans for AquaDuctus will allow the federal government to put in place concrete actions following up the efforts it has made on hydrogen with European partners such as Norway.”

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