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European Commission selects offshore H2 production project for €20-MM grant

The H2 offshore production for Europe (HOPE) project consortium has signed a €20-MM grant agreement with the European Commission. This followed the positive evaluation of the proposal submitted by the partners in response to the call for proposals issued by the Clean H2 Partnership, co-founded and co-financed by the European Union.

The consortium aims to pave the way for the deployment of large-scale offshore production of renewable H2. The HOPE project involves developing, building and operating the first 10-MW production unit in the North Sea, off the coast of Belgium, by 2026. The aim is to demonstrate the technical and financial viability of this offshore project, and of pipeline transport for supplying onshore customers.

Lhyfe completed a first step in 2022 with a world first—the inauguration of Sealhyfe, the world’s first pilot production plant for offshore H2 already integrating Plug’s technology and powered by a 1-MW floating wind turbine. With HOPE, the consortium partners are moving up a gear and aiming for commercialization.

This unprecedentedly large-scale project (10 MW) will be able to produce up to 4 tpd of green H2 at sea, which will be exported to shore by composite pipeline, compressed and delivered to customers for use in industry and the transport sector. HOPE is the first offshore project of this size in the world to begin actual implementation, with the production unit and export and distribution infrastructure due to come on stream in mid-2026.

HOPE will benefit from an ideal location, one kilometer from the coast, in the offshore testing area in front of the port of Ostend (Belgium), which aims to be the central link in the H2 chain in Belgium and has contributed to the development of the project since its inception.

The production site will be powered by electricity supplied under power purchase agreement (PPA) contracts that guarantee its renewable origin. The water used for electrolysis will be pumped from the North Sea, desalinated and purified.

The production site will comprise three units: production and compression (at medium pressure) at sea, export by composite pipeline, then compression (at high pressure), storage and distribution onshore. The first kilos of HOPE H2 could be produced as early as 2026. They will supply mobility needs and small industries in Belgium, northern France and the southern Netherlands, within a 300-kilometer radius.

This project has been selected for funding under the Clean Hydrogen Partnership call for proposals co-financed by the European Union. HOPE is thus recognized as a flagship project making a decisive contribution to energy transition. By means of a first large-scale demonstration, the project will make it possible to improve the technological solutions to produce renewable H2 offshore and its export onshore, helping to reduce the investment risks for much larger-scale projects in the years to come and paving the way to produce massive quantities of renewable H2 in Europe.

The grant awarded by the European Commission covers a period of five years. This includes three years to develop the demonstrator, and then two years to demonstrate the technical reliability and commercial viability of the model. The commercial operation of the H2 production, export and distribution infrastructures developed in this context is intended to continue beyond the duration of the project.

The €20-MM grant will be used to finance the design phases, the supply of equipment and the construction work, as well as research, development and innovation work focusing mainly on optimizing technological solutions and the operation of this type of infrastructure. The techno-economic analysis of offshore renewable H2 production solutions on a much larger scale will be another of the areas of work.

Thanks to an ambitious plan to disseminate and utilize the results, the consortium intends to accelerate the deployment of large-scale offshore H2 solutions to help achieve the target set by the European Commission of 10 MMt of clean H2 produced in the European Union by 2030 to decarbonize the European economy.

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