Hydrogen is future for gas pipelines network in North Sea
The figures say it all: in 2007 27 billion cubic meters of gas was drilled in the North Sea. In 2016 it was 14 billion cubic meters.
“Nogat is still profitable. But incomes are decreasing while maintenance costs are increasing or at best remain equal”, says René Peters, director gas technology at TNO, the Dutch organization for applied scientific research.
TNO is studying alternatives like expansion of the network towards the southern fields of Norway or the western fields of Denmark. Another option, in the long run, is using the gas pipes for hydrogen.
According to different scenarios the sets of wind turbines, that will rise at the Doggersbank in the next twenty to thirty years, will produce more energy than the Dutch electric network can handle. Converting electricity into hydrogen is one possibility.
Hydrogen is relatively easy to store and is environmentally friendly because of the absence of C02-emissions at the combustion.
If wind power can be converted into hydrogen, it can be stored in and transported through the existing gas pipes. What will make wind energy available even on windless days. “And we save money on the wire network”, adds Peters.
“If nothing is done, the North Sea infrastructure will be gone in ten years”, warned Jo Peters (not related to TNO-man René Peters), director of the Dutch oil and gas exploration and production association Nogepa, at the national ‘gas day’ that was held in September.
So called abandoned pipe lines have to be cleared and the cost of the dismantlement of 155 platforms and thousands of kilometres of pipelines is estimated to be 7 billion euro.
The question is how long the Dutch gas production will last. According to some sources like Dutch energy manager EBN, there still 300 billion cubic meters of gas in the seabed. And that offshore gas production will be operational beyond 2030.
And will the hydrogen economy be ready to take over from gas in time? At this point there are only plans like the Nuon project to convert the Magnum power station in Eemshaven to hydrogen and Tennet’s project to built a central at the Doggersbank to convert electricity into hydrogen.
All the parties involved plead for an integral vision and underline the important role of the government to make decisions concerning the conservation of the pipe line network and a strategic planning for wind power parks to be connected to the gas infrastructure.
According to Nogat hydrogen will first be mixed with natural gas, until the natural gas production is stopped. But when will that be?