The Netherlands is committed to significantly increasing renewable electricity production, from mainly wind and solar, to 70% of the electricity supply by 2030. The potential of Dutch offshore wind is estimated at about 70 GW by 2050. Integration of such large amounts of variable, renewable power requires a holistic energy system design and technological innovations to avoid excessive volatility in energy balancing mechanisms. If not handled properly, the cost of expanding the power grid will be much higher than with the right approach. One of the solutions is the integration of hydrogen in the energy system, for instance, by producing hydrogen from (excessive) offshore wind energy.
The existing wind energy and hydrogen systems are grid-following and grid-dependent. As a result, they depend on expensive and long-term reinforcement of the offshore and onshore grid infrastructure to continue functioning properly. Improving the power-to-hydrogen system will increase the balancing capacity of the grid and reduce hydrogen production costs. Furthermore, it contributes to a faster transition by decarbonizing industries, such as agriculture, steel and chemical processes.
The FlexH2 project will design a novel offshore wind-onshore hydrogen production concept. The project aims to achieve higher efficiency and greater flexibility of the power system. We will do this by developing a grid-forming offshore wind turbine and a control system for the power plant for black-start and grid-forming operation. The improved technologies make it possible to use much lighter and more compact HDVC systems, which will lead to cost reductions?. In addition, we will design improved AC-DC semiconductor transformers for the power conversion between the medium voltage alternating current and the hydrogen electrolysers. To verify this technology, we will run a loop simulation. We will also build a small demonstration unit to test the design.
We will then conduct a complete engineering system study, which will include a newly developed multi-terminal HVDC system, grid-forming wind farm and a solid-state transformer. The multi-terminal hybrid HVDC enables lightweight electronic components to support the grid-forming wind farm.
In the last step, we will develop and optimise a conceptual design of the FlexH2 concept. It is essential that the offshore wind-electrolyser is fully and optimally integrated into the operation of both the electricity system and the downstream (industrial) hydrogen system. Therefore, we will build a wind turbine of 100-kW as a demonstrator to verify the feasibility of the individual technological innovations and their integrated solutions at medium voltage level.
In this project, we will develop, test and demonstrate the FlexH2 concept. We aim to bring the concept to a technology readiness level of 6, i.e. technology demonstrated in a relevant environment. This is especially true for grid-forming wind turbine technology, solid-state transformers, and power plant controllers for hydrogen production from offshore wind energy. The project will provide functional definitions of the interface requirements for technological innovations. In addition, the project will deliver performance specifications that define the optimal operational philosophy of the flexible offshore wind-hydrogen power plant module.
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This project is supported by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and TKI Wind op Zee.