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Energy Cast Podcast: The cure to transmission issues – Hydrogen

Tractebel Hydrogen
German engineering firm Tractebel Overdick GmbH has designed a platform to produce hydrogen from 400MW of offshore wind power.

Energy Cast is a podcast featuring some of the top experts across all links in the energy industry chain, including electric vehicles, renewables, generation and more! Jay Dauenhauer created the show and has been hosting Energy Cast for several years.

Click below to listen to the full episode:

I am starting to believe the world’s seas and oceans hold a critical answer to our future energy needs.  Episode 54 showed how CO2 in the sea could be captured and made into fuel.  My fusion guests say hydrogen isotopes are needed for their processes.

Tractebel Overdick, an engineering firm based in Germany, recently announced plans for an offshore hydrogen production platform, powered by offshore wind energy.  This would be at least 4 times larger than any previous hydrogen production effort.

Klaas Oltmann, Tractebel’s Business Development Director, believes this solution is ready to serve some critical needs.

“We have been observing the issue of transmission from offshore wind farms to the onshore electrical grid, and we see hydrogen coming as a solution to overcome certain transmission, energy storage and buffering issues,” he says.  “That brought us to the conclusion to develop this type of platform.”

The effort takes existing technologies, scales them up and places them in an offshore environment for the first time.  I asked Klaas why they wanted to place everything offshore, including the hydrogen production.  He says the offshore wind is the most abundant and affordable renewable energy.  By placing the hydrogen production offshore as well, they can avoid expensive transmission lines back to the mainland.

Seawater cannot be converted to hydrogen directly. The platform will include a desalination and filtering system to make the water clean enough for electrolysis.

Another advantage of making this system self-contained is the intermittent nature of wind power.  Rather than be responsible for 24/7 energy needs, the platform will only produce hydrogen when wind is blowing.  When the turbines are still, stored hydrogen will power the platform and the workers on board.  If the excess hydrogen is not enough, Tractebel is considering batteries and diesel backups.

“The idea is to harvest all the wind we can get,” says Klaas, “we don’t care about peaks, we don’t care about loading, we just take the energy we get.”

Klaas says Tractebel is also considering renewable energy beyond offshore wind for this process.  Solar is especially attractive, he says, because it is already direct current.

The solution is part of a larger effort to move into a hydrogen economy.  Klaas told me he feels electric battery-powered vehicles are only a “mid-term” solution for, say, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

“Once we have more stable hydrogen production, on a larger scale,” he says, “we will also see markets follow this, and to base their energy on hydrogen.” (This podcast originally aired in December 2019.)

Dauenhauer is a member of the DISTRIBUTECH International advisory committees. Clarion Energy is the parent company of DISTRIBUTECH.

We have postponed DISTRIBUTECH to March 30-April 1, 2021 and plan to hold it in conjunction with POWERGEN International in Orlando, Florida.


Energy Cast Podcast is hosted biweekly by Jay Dauenhauer.

Learn more about the podcast here.

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