Offshore contractor Saipem and its partners AGNES and Qint’x have applied for permits to develop a clean energy hub in the Adriatic that will use offshore wind and solar power to produce renewable electricity and green hydrogen
A spokesperson for Saipem told OWJ that the AGNES (Adriatic Green Network of Energy Sources) project for which the partners first signed a memorandum of understanding in August 2020 is moving to the next stage, with authorisation to build it being sought.
A 570-MW grid connection has been authorised by transmission system operator Terna and applications have been filed to build the facility. It is hoped that approval could be secured to build the green energy hub by 2023. The project partners expect to start a measurement campaign at the sites for the windfarms and begin front end engineering work later in 2021. 2022 will see them start work on an environmental impact assessment. If they secure authorisation for the project, they plan to take a final investment decision and begin work in 2023.
When completed, the offshore hub will generate 1.5 terawatt hours of electricity and produce 4,000 tonnes of green hydrogen a year. It will also have 100 MWh of energy storage capacity in the form of lithium batteries.
To be constructed off the coast of Ravenna, the AGNES project will combine two offshore windfarms with a total of 65 turbines on fixed foundations. Together, the windfarms – Romagna 1 and Romagna 2 – will have a generating capacity of approximately 520 MW. They will be installed approximately 8 km and 12 km off the coast.
The windfarms will be integrated with the construction of a 100-MW floating photovoltaic plant installed approximately 10 nautical miles from the coast. The plant will use technology developed by Moss Maritime, a Norwegian company controlled by Saipem.
In addition to transmitting electricity to shore, some of the electricity generated by the turbines and floating photovoltaic facility will be used to produce hydrogen from seawater via electrolysis. It is anticipated that the electrolysers will be installed on decommissioned offshore oil and gas platforms, providing them with a ‘second life.’
The partners in the project say the relatively shallow water in the area allows for the use of bottom-fixed wind turbines. A preliminary assessment of the wind resource suggests that the area of the Adriatic to be used is well-suited to offshore wind. Earlier studies of the area off the coast of Ravenna by the authorities in the region and Italian government indicated that two areas were particularly well-suited.
The export cable from the windfarm will come ashore in the Porto Corsini area. An export cable route of some 15 km will be required. Connection to the national grid would take place at La Canala, a site managed by Terna.
The project partners also believe that the proximity of the Port of Ravenna creates many technical and financial advantages for their project, during the development phase, including a local value chain for the production of components such as towers offshore substations, and during the operations and maintenance phase.
Saipem Xsight renewable and green technology product manager Francesco Balestrino said, “The project off Ravenna is the first energy hub in the world in which hydrogen and photovoltaics will be built on a commercial scale. The project will also be one of the largest offshore wind projects in the Mediterranean.”
Mr Balestrino said Saipem’s Xsight division is also studying similar projects in Sicily and Sardinia that could use floating windfarms. He said the projects are the subject of a recent collaboration agreement between Saipem and CNR, Italy’s National Research Council.
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