The rational exploitation of oceans space and resources is increasingly seen as crucial to enhance European competitiveness in key areas such as Renewable Energy and Aquaculture.
The H2OCEAN consortium aims at developing an innovative design for an economically and environmentally sustainable multi-use open-sea platform.
The H2OCEAN platform will harvest wind and wave power, using part of the energy on-site for multiple applications including a multi-trophic aquaculture farm, and convert on-site the excess energy into hydrogen that can be stored and shipped to shore as green energy carrier.
The project builds on already on-going R&D and commercial activities of a partnership involving European leading industrial and academic partners from five countries within the fields of renewable energy, fish farming, hydrogen generation, maritime transports and related research disciplines.
The unique feature of the H2OCEAN concept, besides the integration of different activities into a shared multi-use platform, lies in the novel approach for the transmission of offshore-generated renewable electrical energy through hydrogen. This concept allows effective transport and storage the energy decoupling energy production and consumption, thus avoiding the grid imbalance problem inherent to current offshore renewable energy systems. Additionally, this concept also circumvents the need for a cable transmission system which takes up a significant investment share for offshore energy generation infrastructures, increasing the price of energy.
The envisaged integrated concept will permit to take advantage of several synergies between the activities within the platform significantly boosting the Environmental, Social and Economic potential impact of new maritime activities, increasing employment and strengthening European competitiveness in key economic areas.
Offshore platforms for renewable energy
Sustainable use of the open oceans is vital to maintaining European competitiveness in key areas such as renewable energy and aquaculture. Offshore platforms that can combine many functions within the same infrastructure could offer major benefits, while minimising the impact on the marine environment.
Europe's seas offer opportunities for sustainable development as energy, fisheries and transport infrastructures are being established offshore. One example of this growing trend is the http://www.h2ocean-project.eu/ (H2OCEAN) project, which is developing an economically and sustainable multi-use open-sea platform for harvesting wind and wave power.
Project partners will base the energy harvesting units on an existing design for a large, floating wave energy converter (WEC). Some of the power generated will be converted to hydrogen that can be stored and used ashore as green energy. A fully integrated aquaculture system will also be developed; researchers have already defined which combination of species should be cultured and developed a programme for full production.
A pilot version of a web-based geographic information tool has been created for identifying the best locations for platforms. Project partners also modelled the effect of integrating a floating vertical axis wind turbine into the WEC, taking into consideration unsteady wind profiles and the motions of the platform.
Three sites have been chosen to test and develop the H2OCEAN design and are located in the North Atlantic, the North Sea and the Mediterranean. Researchers have outlined design specifications for the platform and key production parameters, including electrical output, fresh water, hydrogen and oxygen, and aquaculture.
Scientists conducted an environmental impact study for the three sites based on European statutory directives, baseline conditions and impact factors, and have identified stakeholders. A transport model and a computational fluid dynamic model were developed to assess dispersion effects, including wind, tides and salinity diffusion.
In the future, H2OCEAN will help the sustainable development of multi-use platforms for harvesting and generating offshore renewable energy. The result will represent a significant contribution to the EU economy and help it to remain a global leader in the field of green energy.