Renewable energy for industry: offshore wind in Northern Europe

This note expands on the findings of a recent IEA Insight Paper on renewable energy for industry, exploring further the potential for decarbonising the European industry by replacing fossil fuels with electricity from offshore wind in Northern Europe, either directly or via hydrogen production. Replacing fossil fuels as energy sources, feedstocks and process agents in the European industry would require large amounts of clean electricity. The technical potential for renewable electricity production from offshore wind appears indeed large in Northern Europe. The potential for profitable substitution is significant when electric technologies allow for large energy savings. A broader substitution may require high carbon prices, and in some cases may have to go through the production of hydrogen. However, green hydrogen may also be produced from fossil fuels with carbon capture, possibly at lower costs than from electrolysis run on offshore wind power. And storable and transportable chemicals and fuels may be imported from areas with better renewable resources at lower costs.

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