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Providing thermoplastic composite pipes for H2 hubs

H2 Equipment and Services

C. JUSTET, Strohm, Randstad, the Netherlands

Green hydrogen (H2) production is predicted to soar, heralding enormous potential for multiple industries on the path to net zero. The European Commission estimates between €180 B and €470 B is required for green H2 to make up 13%–14% of the European Union’s energy mix in 2050.1

H2 can contribute even more to the energy mix by helping to supplement renewables’ (e.g., solar photovoltaics, wind) variable output and intermittent supply, which are not always well matched with demand. 

The UK has announced plans to attract £4 B in investments to launch a country-wide H2 economy, while the U.S. is increasing funding to bring down clean H2 costs by 80% in the next decade.2 Meanwhile, China’s new 5-yr plan sees H2 becoming one of the country’s six future industries, and the Dutch government has set a 70-GW offshore wind target for 2050 to underpin electrification and create enough green H2 to decarbonize industries.3 

Enabling the H2 economy. With the global energy sector in flux, the versatility of H2 is attracting stronger interest from a diverse group of governments and companies. Green H2 is quickly gaining traction as a scalable alternative fuel that could power a climate-neutral economy. However, due to H2’s density being much less than most other energy carriers, it poses a significant and often overlooked logistics problemspecifically, its transportation from future production sites to points of use.

The author’s company is developing safe and dependable pipeline solutions that enable green H2 generated at offshore wind turbines to be transported to shore via subsea pipe infrastructure. Thermoplastic composite pipes (TCPs) can safely transport H2, carbon dioxide (CO2), ammonia and water, whereas steel solutions suffer from embrittlement, fatigue and corrosion. A TCP is a flexible pipe capable of being installed offshore easily and quickly, using the same methods used for array cables (FIG. 1).

FIG. 1. TCPs provide a corrosion-free alternative for H2 transport.

In many population centers worldwide (Europe is a prime example), the potential for onsite clean H2 production is limited, necessitating its transportation from supply hubs with low-cost renewables, such as the wind farms of the North Sea or solar parks in the Arabian Gulf. 

Because they are vulnerable to damage, expensive to repair and dependent on copper pricing, electric power cables are the Achilles heel for wind farms. Furthermore, 80% of offshore wind farm’s insurance claims are related to the cables, an issue that can be avoided by using pipes.4 

In an ideal scenario, a TCP would transfer and store the energy, allowing H2 to be produced directly in the wind turbine or on a centralized platform. Using the pipeline infrastructure to store H2 also has the potential to reduce downtime, as wind turbines can continue production even in low-demand cases (FIG. 2).

FIG. 2. Thermoplastic pipe technology is set to support the growing wind to H2 market.

The infrastructure required to scale up H2 provides opportunities and challenges. H2 is highly reactive and seeps between the molecules of nearly every steel alloy. H2 can cause steel embrittlement at room temperature and pressure, reducing its pressure containment capability and fatigue resistance.  

When considering H2 storage, the consequential pressure fluctuations and free-spanning issues with pipelines on the North Sea, reducing the fatigue life of steel pipes is a serious challenge. Furthermore, as moisture is often a byproduct of electrolysis, using carbon steel for offshore H2 transport will result in corrosion damage. 

TCPs provide an attractive alternative to steel for H2 transport. They do not corrode and have a superior fatigue life that exceeds steel. TCPs feature a solid pipe wall constructed from glass or carbon reinforcement fibers and thermoplastic polymeric materials.

A sustainable solution. The author’s company has a track record of TCPsa installed offshore, where the TCP is pulled through offshore J-tubes and terminated offshore on a platform. A TCP can be installed using small multi-purpose vessels and the proven horizontal lay method. Installation methods for electric power cables also require minimal adaptation. TCPs can be pulled through a J-tube and terminated, providing a plug-and-play solution with J-tubes slightly larger than the pipe. 

TCPs can be delivered in long lengths (on a reel or a carousel) and cut-to-length during installation; alternatively, they can be delivered in predetermined lengths for quick deployment. The solution requires no maintenance and has a 30-yr lifecycle, thus lowering the levelized cost of electricity to a minimum and enabling the decentralized concept solution. 

The carbon footprint of a TCP is more than 50% lower than a steel pipeline. More than 9 gigawatts (GW) of offshore green H2 projects have been proposed in the North Sea basin, with further multi-GW growth potential alongside carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), all of which will require specialist pipeline solutions at scale. 

CCUS is the first step in the transition to sustainable energy, with green H2 being the end goal. Unlike steel or unbonded flexible pipes, TCP does not corrode when exposed to CO2 and does not become brittle with exposure to H2. It is a more sustainable product and is proven to be durable. 

The Dutch government has begun an initiative to secure its energy supply, increase the competitiveness of H2 and ammonia as green fuels, and facilitate the road to zero emissions while decreasing the pressure on seabed use in the North Sea. 

The Dutch government’s partners are developing a floating H2 and/or ammonia production and storage facility in Europe, which will be connected to an adjacent wind farm by 2027. The produced H2 then has the potential to be transported to shore through existing oil and gas pipelines or newly installed TCP; the ammonia can then be transported to end users by shuttle tankers.⁵   

Looking ahead. H2 will inevitably play a major role in reaching global decarbonization goals. As the economy moves toward net-zero emissions, clean H2 and its derivatives will be especially vital in traditionally hard-to-abate sectors (e.g., heavy industry, marine transport).  

Offshore wind farms will be developed farther away from the coast and often away from high energy demand areas to access the best wind resources. The most viable solution is to convert the power generated by offshore wind turbine generators directly into H2 offshore, alleviating the negative impacts of power conversion and cables, thereby maximizing efficiency (FIG. 3).

FIG. 3. Wind-to-green H2 heralds a new path toward reaching a net-zero industry.

The time is right to tap into H2’s potential to play a key role in a clean, secure and affordable energy future. With a growing list of operators announcing ambitions to reduce the carbon footprint of their operations and the products they sell, the energy industry is taking unprecedented steps towards a low-carbon energy system.H2T


a TCP Flowline


1 European Commission, “Questions and answers: A hydrogen strategy for a climate neutral Europe,” July 2020, online:  

2 International Energy Agency, “The future of hydrogen,” June 2019, online: 

3 Recharge, “Dutch set vast 70GW offshore wind target to electrify large part of Netherlands,” September 2022, online: 

4 S&P Global, “Hydrogen emerging as viable solution to meet 2050 climate targets: Barclays,” May 2020, online: ReNews, “Dutch green hydrogen floater project wins grant,” April 2023, online: 

About the author

CAROLINE JUSTET is the VP of Europe at Strohm and is responsible for developing the company’s energy transition strategy, introducing new TCP product lines and growing its footprint in the offshore wind, H2 and CCUS markets. Justet earned an MBA in international management. She was recently involved in building a partnership with Lhyfe, the renewable H2 supplier, to develop onshore and offshore wind-to-H2 transportation, and Evonik to develop and qualify TCP technology for H2 transport.