In the new pandemic context, there is a propulsion to act and find solutions for an effective transition to a renewable, decarbonized energy system. CO2 is playing an important role and H2, NH3 and LOHCs (Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carriers) are the new energy vectors. The common factor is the need to gather, transport and distribute over short and long distances. One advantage of Hydrogen is that can be carried together with Natural Gas. This approach is becoming very appealing for pipeline grid operators who are currently experimenting or qualifying both new and existing systems to be used for such blended products.
The offshore pipeline transport system is one of the key areas requiring strong development due to limited experience for offshore H2 and CO2 transportation. From a global solutions provider perspective, there is the need, more than ever, to reassess the technological and intellectual portfolio to overcome the new challenges posed by these new scenarios.
The paper describes the steps taken towards a safe and efficient design of offshore pipeline networks for H2 and CO2. Focus is dedicated to the main issues faced by engineering disciplines. In particular, material technologies issues are analysed considering the implications for material selection, material properties, welding and fracture mechanics. The innovative solutions to be addressed in designing offshore pipelines are presented considering different transport scenarios and challenges like fluid composition, transport phase and the possibility to convert or not existing facilities. A very important topic addressed by the paper is safety: the offshore transport provides by itself a unique opportunity of de-risking the energy transition provided that an appropriate safeguarding model is applied to assure acceptable/tolerable risk levels.
The Energy Technology Perspectives 2020 published by IEA (ref./1/) identifies some key enablers for boosting the transition to a decarbonized energy system such as industrial hubs for CCUS and Low-Carbon Hydrogen production facilities; shared transport and storage infrastructures; re-use of existing Oil & Gas assets and infrastructure for the transport and storage of H2 or H2/NG blends and of CO2. Exemplary large-scale projects include long distance transport pipelines and the main European transport associations are working at a hydrogen backbone concept, that involves the entire existing gas network including offshore trunklines (ref./2/).