On 21 February WindEurope hosted a workshop exploring the wind energy’s potential to decarbonise industries that are resource- and energy-intensive – with a focus on hydrogen. Speakers included the IEA, the European Commission, the hydrogen sector, wind energy sector representatives and sectoral trade organisations.
Late last year, the European Commission presented its strategic long-term vision for a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. And one of the biggest challenges in meeting this objective lies in the major sectors such as steel, chemicals or cement industries. In 2016 industrial processes accounted for 17.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the EU.
Wind energy has the potential to play a leading role in the decarbonisation of such processes. One way to do that is with so-called ‘green hydrogen’ – i.e. hydrogen produced via water electrolysis with electricity produced in wind farms.
Hydrogen is a technology in which Europe has leadership and it is an excellent means of storing variable electricity. Currently, 80% of the cost of hydrogen stems from the cost of electricity. With the rapid and growing cost-effectiveness of wind energy in recent years, wind-produced electricity could become a competitive decarbonisation pathway in many industrial sectors.
Workshop participants compared the technical and economic constraints for the production of renewable hydrogen, ammonia or methanol, and discussed regulatory measures to unlock the potential of sectoral integration including coupling of electricity and gas grids.
One of the most promising prospects discussed was the development of offshore wind in the North Sea. With offshore wind costs declining and capacity factors high enough, the North Sea has major potential to upscale the production of green hydrogen for industries where emissions remain ‘hard to abate’.
The electrification of Europe’s energy mix is one of the many topics on the agenda at the WindEurope 2019 Conference & Exhibition in Bilbao this April. There will be conference sessions on the electrification of the heating sector, and on market & system operation practices to ensure we move toward 100% renewables in Europe.