Take advantage of green hubs in coastal regions!

BWO publishes position paper for hydrogen from offshore wind energy
8 November 2023

Offshore wind energy, with its high full-load hours, relatively consistent feed-in profile and low electricity production costs, is particularly well suited for the production of green hydrogen. This is nothing new. However, there is still a lack of a suitable legal framework to leverage this urgently needed potential. “The industry has been ready for a long time and is basically just waiting for appropriate political investment signals,” says BWO managing director Stefan Thimm.

The BWO has therefore summarized the short-term measures that are now necessary in a position paper: “In our view, what is particularly important is the inclusion of a separate offshore electrolysis target of 10 gigawatts in the federal government’s targets. “In addition, there is currently no perspective beyond 2030,” says Thimm. The implementation of the ordinance authorization passed with the WindSeeG 2022 to tender green hydrogen produced with electrolysers to benefit the system has not yet been further specified. “In the first step, for example, it is necessary to define the term 'system usefulness' more precisely in this context. The BWO recommends that this be understood in the sense of 'network usefulness'. The systems should serve to flexibly convert electricity into hydrogen and also to make electricity consumption more flexible,” explains Thimm. The proximity of the electrolysis projects to landfall points for offshore wind energy should play an important role here.

With the design of the authorization to issue regulations – in conjunction with the rapid updating of the hydrogen pipeline planning – “green hubs” could be created near the coast, which significantly support the integration of electricity from offshore wind turbines into the German energy system. This also increases regional added value and reduces network bottlenecks. 

“In our view, there is also a need for action in offshore electrolysis,” continues Thimm. At the beginning of this year, the BMWK carried out an important consultation process with a view to promoting offshore hydrogen production and sought the opinions of the stakeholders on the layout and tendering process for the areas. In general, however, the process is too slow overall, even with offshore electrolysis. From the BWO's point of view, this is incomprehensible because the regulation for other energy production areas has long been anchored in the law. “The tenders for offshore electrolysis simply need to be pushed forward more quickly,” says Thimm. The BWO therefore proposes three immediate measures:

  1. Ensure rapid tendering of the SEN-1 area, provide new areas for offshore electrolysis in the area development plan
  2. Advance offshore hydrogen pipelines in a timely manner
  3. Create a predictable and stable network fee system for offshore electrolysis

Background to distinguish between on- and offshore electrolysis

Low-cost offshore wind energy can be used to produce green hydrogen in two ways:

  1. In the short term, via the production of hydrogen on land using electricity from offshore wind farms (here referred to as “onshore electrolysis”)
  2. In the medium and long term through hydrogen production at sea (“offshore electrolysis”).

The BWO's new position paper provides important impetus for both ways of producing hydrogen with electricity from offshore wind turbines.