Wind is a clean energy source that is becoming ever cheaper. But we cannot “switch on the wind” as we please: as more wind turbines are built, the irregularity of wind causes difficulties in the power grid. In fact, scientists have shown that when wind power is more than about 20% of the capacity of an energy system, there is no value in building more wind turbines, because the cheap generation is offset by the difficulties of storing and distributing energy.
Haeolus is about producing hydrogen directly from wind power. Hydrogen can be re-electrified later, used as fuel (land vehicles, ships, etc.), or used in the chemical industry. Our demonstration site is in Berlevåg, at the extreme north of Norway, close to the Raggovidda wind power park. In this sparsely populated region, the power grid was not built for high capacities. The case of Raggovidda is not unique: the best wind resources are often in sparsely populated areas with weak power grids, and often far away from mountains where energy could be stored by pumped hydro power.
Managing to exploit wind power resources in isolated areas with a weak grid will allow more renewable power generation, in spite of the weak grid these areas typically have. Haeolus will develop methods useful not just for the specific Raggovidda case (which, in the long term, is envisaged as a hydrogen production and export hub), but also for the cases of re-electrification and stabilisation of mini-grids (e.g. islands not electrically connected to the mainland).
The project’s overarching objectives are:
1. Enabling more wind power in national energy systems.
2. Testing multiple use cases.
3. Deploying a state-of-the-art 2.5 MW electrolyser, the largest of its kind worldwide.
4. Operating the whole plant remotely, an important property for remote areas.
5. Raising awareness of the technology with public reports, seminars, site visits and other dissemination actions.
Currently, the electrolyser has just been installed on site and the demonstration phase was started, after several months of delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The project is foreseen to be completed in 2023.