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Renewable hydrogen collaboration for Ørsted and BP

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Danish offshore wind giant Ørsted has teamed up with BP to develop a green hydrogen scheme at one of the latter’s refinery complexes in north-west Germany.

The project will comprise a 50 MW electrolyser system capable of generating one tonne of hydrogen per hour, or approximately 9,000 tonnes a year. This is sufficient to replace around 20% of the refinery’s current ‘grey’ hydrogen consumption, preventing around 80,000 tonnes of CO2 ‎equivalent emissions a year.

When it’s driven by renewable power, the process of electrolysis splits water into hydrogen and oxygen without generating any CO2 emissions. However, much of the hydrogen used in industry today is produced via the carbon-intensive steam reforming of methane. 

The joint initiative constitutes the first phase of a longer-term ambition to install 500 MW of renewable hydrogen capacity at the refinery. The electrolyser involved will be powered by one of Ørsted’s wind farms in the North Sea. Eventually, renewable hydrogen could meet all of the refinery’s needs, as well as providing a feedstock for the production of synthetic fuels.

‘Heavy industries such as refineries use large quantities of hydrogen in their manufacturing processes,’ says Martin Neubert, Executive Vice President for Ørsted. ‘They will continue to need hydrogen, but replacing the currently fossil-based hydrogen with hydrogen produced from renewable energy can help these industries dramatically lower their CO2 footprint.’ 

BP has said the project will be vital in helping it establish itself as a leader in the emerging hydrogen sector. The partnership is the latest in a growing line of low-carbon ventures for the oil major, which is looking to diversify amid a turbulent period for oil and gas prices. 
BP’s market value hit a 26-year low of £40.5bn in late October. Meanwhile, Ørsted has doubled its value in less than two years to 
over £51bn. 

In September, BP inked a $1bn offshore wind deal – its first in the sector – when it agreed to buy a 50% share in two US projects owned by Norway’s Equinor. It is also leading a consortium of energy companies to build carbon capture and storage infrastructure under the UK North Sea. 

The company announced it would pursue a net zero by 2050 target in February, shortly after the appointment of CEO Bernard Looney. However, Looney has indicated that the pace of BP’s transition away from oil will be gradual, with the firm remaining in oil and gas for decades to come. 

Photo: Ørsted. BP’s Lingen Refinery is the site of the hydrogen pilot. 

News Item details

Journal title: Energy World

Organisation: Ørsted|British Petroleum

Subjects: Renewables - Hydrogen -

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