Research and results
Our goal is to increase the efficiency and flexibility of large-scale offshore hubs by centralising the energy generation. Demonstrating the full potential of the CleanOFF Hub concept requires us to address several research questions with varying levels of analysis. A multi-level approach has been defined accordingly, as illustrated in Figure 3. The proposed structure of the work packages also reflects the selected methodological approach.
Technology development WP1 and WP2
The individual technologies constitute the individual components within the offshore hub system. Basic system design will be performed to assess the feasibility of the various solutions, and identify the technologies’ ability to successfully conjugate energy efficiency, low environmental impact, reliability, low manning and compactness. For the selected technologies, key research challenges and gaps will be addressed and resolved. The tasks will be performed by creating detailed models of the technologies under scrutiny. The technology development task is conveniently split into two areas: renewable energy with hydrogen-based energy storage (WP1) and compact CO2 capture and heat supply (WP2). While they generally have a similar scope, each area entails specific challenges and objectives that are better outlined in the description of the work packages (WPs). Activities that are relevant to both areas will be carried out in only one WP and the information conveyed to the other (for instance, WP1 will cover electric stability, while the heat supply will be addressed in WP2). In this regard, continuous communication between the WPs will be ensured. The work from WP1 and WP2 will provide information and tools for the following concept development.
Concept development WP3
The central challenge here is optimally integrating clean hub technologies into an efficient and reliable solution for firm electric power and heat supply. The approach entails multiple steps with system design and evaluation, with increasing detail and focus on the most promising solutions. While the focus will be on the two hub concepts for which the key technologies are being investigated, alternative solutions to supply energy offshore will also be assessed in order to build a robust basis for benchmarking the hub concept. The primary selection criterion is the technology’s potential to safely and efficiently decarbonise offshore clusters. Process integration considerations will be included to investigate the most efficient way of meeting the heat and power demand while maximizing resource utilization. This will make use of the load flexibilities explored in the OFFLEX project, which started in spring 2021 (a LowEmission spin-off project). Various research methods will be applied in the concept development task, including data collection, process integration and system design optimisation. Even though the primary information flow goes from technology development to concept development, feedback loops can be expected when the system perspective provides additional inputs to refine and improve the technological solutions considered.
Concept potential WP4
This task relies on techno-economic and full-chain analyses, which enables us to get a comprehensive picture of the energy, environmental and economic performances of the CleanOFF Hub. The questions being investigated is to what extent and in which areas is the hub concept advantageous? A thorough analysis of the results obtained will help answer these questions. The comparison with alternative energy supply concepts will provide additional elements for the analysis by putting the hub concepts into perspective with different solutions. The outcomes will form the basis of a potential identification exercise, aka the mapping of the most promising solutions for decarbonising offshore sectors, depending on specific characteristics of the offshore clusters. Considerations on reuse opportunities, short- and long-term impacts, and the implementability of the CleanOFF Hub concept will also be made.