UK-based HydroWing and Dutch tidal energy developer Tocardo are working on a solution that will convert tidal energy into hydrogen, store it and offload it - similar to an FPSO in the oil and gas industry - to overcome the intermittency as well as the transportation issues.
The concept called the THyPSO (Tidal Hydrogen Production, Storage and Offloading) includes a floating platform housing 1 – 6 conventional bi-directional tidal turbines converting the tidal flows into electricity, which is directed through an integrated electrolyzer converting the unlimited supply of surrounding seawater "into the energy-dense fuel, and versatile commodity that is Hydrogen."
THyPSO has the capacity to hold up to two weeks’ worth of hydrogen production in pressurized storage tanks. Offtake is scheduled autonomously by remote communications and discharge occurs within a single slack tide.
"A simple and safe procedure using an offtake vessel moored down-stream of the device, connect to a pressurized delivery hose," the companies explain.
As for the offtake vessel, it would be adaptable to local value chains or requirements, either being a small workboat or landing craft at the demonstration scale. A larger-scale could see THyPSO deliver Hydrogen to vessels such as ferries, cargo vessels, and cruise ships, the partners says.
"Hydrogen is a much more versatile commodity than electricity as it can be stored and used for a wide range of applications such as eliminating carbon emissions from maritime transport, agriculture, aquaculture, fishing, tourism, leisure, petro-chemicals, grid balancing, rail and road transport. THyPSO combines the independent advantages of Tidal and Hydrogen technologies to overcome the technical and financial barriers faced by each technology alone, and to such extent has been patented to protect this advantage," HydroWing says.
"By being autonomous from the grid, the device can be used on sites that would otherwise be unfeasible, thereby enabling access to highly energetic resources previously unexplored," it adds.
Image Credit: THyPSO
"The key advantage of THyPSO over a conventional tidal generation is its autonomous nature. Requiring no grid connection, the THyPSO can be deployed rapidly at sites that would otherwise be unfeasible," HydroWing says.
THyPSO eliminates the necessity for expensive and high risk subsea electrical infrastructure thereby creating substantial savings on OPEX and CAPEX as well as easing installation, O&M, and decommissioning procedures. The associated cost of subsea electrical architecture represents a significant proportion of offshore energy costs.
Another key issue of producing electricity from any renewable source is the intermittency of production. By producing Hydrogen instead of electricity, THyPSO is not constrained by any external factors and can ensure that all production is utilized. The offtake and onward distribution can be actively managed and scheduled to suit weather windows and the market demands at the time, the THyPSO partners claim.
"Roughly 70 million tonnes of Hydrogen is produced annually representing a market worth over £100 billion. Hydrogen is utilized for a wide range of current industrial processes from ammonia, methanol, and metals production and refinery of oil. Currently, 95% of this demand is met by non-green sources resulting in around 830 million tonnes of CO2 a year; equivalent to the emissions of the UK and Indonesia combined.
"The production and use of Hydrogen is an ever-growing sector of interest and has been highlighted by nations across the globe as instrumental to forming a zero-carbon economy. Additionally, with its high energy density Hydrogen has been marked as a clean alternative and essential fuel to contribute to the decarbonization of the electricity, heating, and transport sectors which, will only see this demand rise exponentially in the coming years," HydroWing and Tocardo say.
The THyPSO project, the partners say, will demonstrate the streamlined implementation of a tidal energy project with a view to upscaling and rolling out larger projects across Europe and the rest of the world in the coming years in line with the ever-growing demand for green sourced hydrogen.
"We are actively seeking partners to develop this project," HydroWing says.
Richard Parkinson, Managing Director, HydroWing Limited: "This project has shifted our focus to a broader and exciting market where we can make use of our tides to provide a more versatile energy mix into the local communities and beyond. I sincerely hope that we can inspire greater use of green hydrogen in the marine sector as a result of this project."
Andries van Unen, CEO, Tocardo B.V.:"This project provides a new perspective and versatile use for tidal turbines. The project is well suited to the range of Tocardo turbines allowing us to effectively scale up as demand for green hydrogen increases into the future."