AquaVentus – Hydrogen production in the North Sea
AquaVentus – Hydrogen production in the North Sea

Hydrogen production in the North Sea


Hydrogen is considered the great hope of decarbonisation in all sectors that cannot be electrified, e.g. industrial manufacturing, aviation and shipping. Massive investments in the expansion of renewable energy are needed to enable carbon-neutral hydrogen production. After all, wind, solar and hydroelectric power form the basis of climate-friendly hydrogen.

In its quest for climate-friendly hydrogen production, the AquaVentus initiative has set its sights on one renewable energy generation technology: offshore wind. The initiative aims to use electricity from offshore wind farms to operate electrolysers also installed at sea on an industrial scale. Plans envisage setting up electrolysis units in the North Sea with a total capacity of 10 gigawatts, enough to produce 1 million metric tons of green hydrogen.

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The project family surrounding the AquaVentus initiative includes numerous independent consortia along the value chain, which are working on the realization of the AquaVentus vision. These projects, which will dovetail each other, will synchronise demand and production, enabling the required market ramp-up.


One of the first pilot projects is dedicated to install one innovative hydrogen wind turbine off the coast of Heligoland. This involves integrating the electrolyser into the base of the turbine tower. This 1x15 megawatt unit will be connected to Heligoland via a pipeline where the green hydrogen will be used to replace the usage of fossil fuels in the central heating system and to avoid CO2 emissions on the island.

AquaPrimus is an end-to-end climate change project that is venturing out to apply the commercial application of this new technology under real-life conditions for the first time. This will establish the basis for the scale-up of future projects in the whole EU.

AquaPrimus | RWE

Unlike other projects that are currently being developed, AquaPrimus will not only contribute to the ramp-up of the hydrogen industry in Germany, but it will have a major impact on future projects all over Europe. Other projects lack the scalability that AquaPrimus brings with its integrated system of turbine and electrolyser based on a standardized commercial size wind turbine of 15 MW.

The de-risking effects of AquaPrimus will fundamentally improve the economics and the bankability of all future offshore H2 projects, since a commercial scale reference project operating successfully in an offshore environment is currently a missing link for debt or equity financing. Neither banks nor other investors can currently take sound decisions on a much more scaled-up offshore hydrogen farm due to the non calcuable risks of such a multi-billion project. Any future project could point to the existing commercialization as proof of concept though, and thus would benefit from the experience of this reference case, not just the project partners involved. As such, AquaPrimus will boost the development of this key technology for decarbonising Europe with H2.


Pipeline for green hydrogen from North Sea

Under the name AquaDuctus, the AquaVentus initiative bundles all activities related to the development, construction and operation of an offshore H2-collection pipeline, which is envisaged to transport in combination with the planned onshore backbone grid green hydrogen from the North Sea directly to the customers on the mainland. For the specific use-case, the pipeline concept has been proven to be more economic and technically feasible compared to other transport concepts (i.e. vessel transfer). In the dovetailed sub-projects, demand, generation and transport of hydrogen are to be synchronised in order to enable a swift market ramp-up.
RWE Image


Large-scale offshore hydrogen park in the German North Sea

With AquaSector, the utility scale “proof of concept” for the 10GW AquaVentus vision goes into operation. AquaSector is envisaged to be the frontrunner for solving critical technical challenges and becoming an enabler for gigawatt-scale offshore H2 projects.

The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) currently prepares the “SEN-1” wind priority area in the German Bight for the tender (beauty contest). The consortium of operators and manufacturers successful in the tender will then build the world’s first large-scale offshore hydrogen park – the new AlphaVentus.

RWE Image

The AquaSector project intends to install approx. 300 megawatt (MW) capacity to produce up to 20,000 tons per year of green hydrogen offshore. The green hydrogen will then be delivered onshore via the central AquaDuctus collection pipeline.

Commissioning is currently scheduled for early/mid 2030s. 

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