The world’s first offshore wind/green hydrogen pilot is to go ahead this year after its project consortium — including Repsol and TechnipFMC — received €9 million ($11 million) of funding from state-owned development bank Innovation Norway.

It is the first step towards commercialising the group’s Deep Purple concept, which aims to use excess offshore wind power to create green hydrogen via offshore electrolysers and store the gas in underwater tanks.

On-site fuel cells would then convert the clean H2 back into electricity when required.

About two-thirds of the funding for the pilot is coming from the project partners themselves — Spanish major Repsol, oil and gas services provider TechnipFMC, Swedish utility Vattenfall, Swiss technology company ABB, Norwegian electrolyser manufacturer Nel Hydrogen, Norway-based advisory firm DNV GL, Norwegian conglomerate Umoe and Norwegian process-control engineer Slaattland.

The onshore pilot project, at an industrial park in Kongsberg, Norway, will be under 1 megawatt in size, and will not use a wind turbine — it will instead simulate the output of a turbine — but utilise multiple electrolysers, fuel cells and storage tanks, TechnipFMC’s Deep Purple business manager Jorn Lindtvedt told Upstream's renewable energy sister publication, Recharge.

The set-up will be primarily designed to develop and test an advanced control system that would ultimately allow it to operate autonomously.

Engineering work will begin on the pilot in the first quarter, with construction starting towards the end of the year and commissioning expected in the first quarter of 2022. The project is expected to take two-and-a-half years in total.

“Securing the approvals and funding to proceed with a scale pilot is a critical step in the path to commercialisation,” said Jonathan Landes, president of TechnipFMC’s Subsea business unit.