Norway-based energy company Equinor announced today that it has joined the NortH2, Europe’s biggest green energy project. The announcement closely follows Equinor’s recently launched commitment to become a net zero emissions energy company by 2050.

Hydrogen is viewed as one of the key building blocks of the transition to a cleaner energy future, given its ability to act both as a clean energy carrier and fuel, as well as a CO2-neutral feedstock for the production of green chemicals. Despite being the most abundant element in the universe, however, there are no pure hydrogen deposits on earth, and it must be extracted from other materials. The extraction process often creates pollutants and GHG emissions. Green hydrogen, on the other hand, uses an electrolysis process to extract hydrogen from water, using a renewable source of energy such as wind or solar, with oxygen released as a byproduct.

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The NortH2 project was initiated in February 2020 by energy company Shell, Groningen Seaports Gasunie and the province of Groningen. The project aims to produce green hydrogen using renewable electricity from offshore wind off the coast of Netherlands of about 4 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, and 10+ GW by 2040, producing 0.4. million tonnes of green hydrogen in 2030 and 1 million tonnes by 2040, enough to abate 8 to 10 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

In November 2020, Equinor announced a new sustainability goal, aiming to reach net zero emissions by 2050, including both emissions from production and final consumption of energy. Among the initiatives identified by the company to achieve this goal was the development of low-carbon technologies and establishment of zero-emission value chains, including carbon capture and storage markets, and hydrogen technologies. Equinor CEO, Anders Opedal described today’s announcement as a step towards this new target.

Opedal said:

“This is a groundbreaking project that Equinor is looking forward to contribute to. The project can be an important part in our efforts to build a competitive position in hydrogen, creating future value and industrial possibilities. Our aim is to be a net-zero energy company by 2050 and developing a profitable low carbon value chain for hydrogen will be an essential part of our transition to become a broad energy company. Hydrogen will be key to decarbonization and net zero efforts for the energy market, especially in otherwise hard to abate sectors which cannot be served by electricity.”

Equinor has invested significantly in renewable energy and low carbon energy initiatives and projects. The company is developing the world’s largest offshore wind project, Dogger Bank, with venture partner SSE Renewables, with both partners recently each selling a 10% stake to energy company Eni. The company has also recently announced participation in the development of a clean hydrogen plant in the UK, its support for the creation of low-carbon and zero emissions shipping technologies, and a partnership with bp to develop offshore wind projects in the US.

Pål Eitrheim, executive vice president New Energy Solutions in Equinor, said:

“NortH2 fits well with Equinor’s experience and position as a leading offshore wind operator. Hydrogen will add to the competitiveness of renewables in the years to come, by adding value and an alternative route to market for renewables. The development of viable large-scale clean hydrogen value chains will help meet the Paris agreement targets.”