OX2 and SMHI team up to restore ecosystems in the Baltic Sea

Can offshore wind farms help restore ecosystems that have run out of oxygen? This question will be answered by a new project led by OX2 and SMHI, the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute. Oxygen that is created as a byproduct of hydrogen production could be the key to reinvigorating the deepest levels of the Baltic Sea, which have been rendered toxic by eutrophication and isolation.
Low oxygen levels in the Baltic Sea have been an issue for a long time. Due to how the Baltic is shaped, new water rarely reaches its deepest parts, meaning that these depths are deprived of oxygen as organic matter is degraded. As more organic matter is added to the sea through eutrophication and similar processes, this state of hypoxia, meaning low oxygen levels, becomes increasingly alarming.
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When no oxygen is left in the water for an extended time, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is formed, which is toxic to all marine life. This causes ripple effects across the whole food chain, where the loss of plants and benthic animals affects the fish population, which in turn affects birdlife and marine mammals, potentially putting the whole ecosystem at risk. To reverse this process, the water must be provided with an influx of oxygen, usually through inflows of new, oxygenized water. But there may be another way.

Can hydrogen production save the Baltic Sea?

During hydrogen production, one of the byproducts is oxygen, which is usually vented into the atmosphere. Now OX2, together with SMHI, will explore the possibility of redirecting oxygen from offshore energy parks into the deep waters of the Baltic Sea. The purpose of the project is to evaluate the technical preconditions to pumping and spreading oxygen at the seabed, as well as the positive effects this can have on oxygen levels and ecosystems.
As part of this project, oxygen from the hydrogen production of offshore wind parks Neptunus and Pleione will be used to oxygenate the nearby waters in the Baltic Sea. OX2 has applied to the government for approval to produce 370,000 tonnes of hydrogen annually, which would amount to almost 3 million tonnes of oxygen each year. SMHI will analyze the effects this oxygen can have on the surrounding environment. At the same time, OX2 will contribute with technical expertise on how to best design hydrogen production to release oxygen into the water effectively.
Massive portions of the Baltic Sea are devoid of oxygen, with devastating consequences to the ecosystem.
Massive portions of the Baltic Sea are devoid of oxygen, with devastating consequences to the ecosystem.

The future of hydrogen production?

If this project is a success, it could change how we deploy offshore wind in the future, as they can become valuable assets for ecosystems that have become vulnerable due to a lack of oxygen.
“This could potentially be a great opportunity to not only produce fossil-free energy but also contribute with nature positive actions to restore a healthier sea. At the same time, all interventions in nature have to be done carefully and thoroughly. That is why we are very happy to be working with SMHI to investigate the opportunities with this technique,” says Elina Cuellar, project manager, OX2.

  • Jane Wangui

    2 w

    This is quite impressive.. innovations like these are the future of tomorrow..this is the way to go so as to ensure that we achieve our climatic goals.

    • George Kariuki

      4 w

      If successful, this initiative could pave the way for a sustainable future where offshore wind farms not only power our homes but also breathe life back into our oceans. #RenewableEnergy #EcosystemRestoration #Innovation 🌬️🌊

      • Rotich Kim

        4 w

        good project we need more of this project

        • Sarah Chabane

          4 w

          Such an interesting project! I look forward to following it and seeing the results

          • Munene Mugambi

            4 w

            This mega project's viability hinges on several factors, including the technical feasibility of pumping oxygen into the Baltic Sea's deep waters, the environmental impact of such interventions, and the scalability of the approach. While it holds promise as a potential solution to address the Baltic Sea's oxygen depletion, further research, testing, and regulatory approval are necessary to determine its overall viability. We can only wait to find out how it pans out but we do hope for the best, it'd certainly be a huge help to the current ecosystem

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