Our insights and perspectives on the future hydrogen economy in a blog

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“Hydrogen: game-changer for a sustainable energy future”

At OMNIA we understand the relevance of hydrogen to creating sustainable energy, and over the coming weeks we will share our knowledge and experience in a blog series. Our blog articles will include topics ranging from the importance of hydrogen within the global decarbonisation endeavour, to hydrogen’s current legal situation in Germany, the EU, and the UN. To learn more, follow our blog ‘Hydrogen: game-changer for our sustainable energy future’, and have a look at our blog posts below.

Among the landscape of funding tools for EU hydrogen pilot projects, the Horizon Europe programme is a key feature. The Horizon Europe programme is focused on innovative research and, according to the European Commission, has a budget of 95.5 billion Euros (European Commission, 2022). Of this amount, 35% is used to support Europe’s climate objectives by investing in low-carbon industry applications and breakthrough technologies, including hydrogen. The Horizon Europe fund covers hydrogen pilot projects across the complete value chain, stretching from research and innovation projects to market deployment actions. The following article will outline the details for five of these projects.

GREEN HYSLAND

The GREEN HYSLAND project’s target is to deploy a fully-functioning ‘Hydrogen ecosystem’ on the island of Mallorca, Spain, to make it Europe’s first hydrogen hub in Southern Europe. The starting point for developing this ecosystem is the production of green hydrogen from solar energy. This green hydrogen would then be injected into the H2-backbone grid of the island. These steps will allow not only the residents of the island to benefit from green energy, but the tourist, transport, and industry sectors as well. Additionally, the project will create a roadmap for the widespread application of hydrogen within the economy of Mallorca and the Balearic Region until 2050. According to GREEN HYSLAND, the findings from these projects shall serve as a model for the replication of hydrogen ecosystems on other islands in the EU. (GREEN HYSLAND, 2022).

H2Haul

The H2Haul project is co-financed by the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) and aims to deploy sixteen zero-emission fuel-cell trucks at four sites across Europe. As a complement to the fuel-cell trucks, six new high-capacity hydrogen re-fuelling stations will be installed to supply reliable, low-carbon hydrogen to the trucks. According to the project, there is and will be, a constant monitoring of both the infrastructure’s and vehicles’ performance. Close and constant monitoring of H2Haul will enable the investment and participation of a wide range of stakeholders for future hydrogen projects, after its finish in 2023 (H2Haul, 2022).


JIVE Projects

The JIVE and JIVE2 projects (Joint Initiative for Hydrogen Vehicles across Europe) are also part of the effort to integrate hydrogen into the transportation sector, particularly public transport. The JIVE projects will introduce 139 new zero-emission fuel-cell buses and the associated re-fuelling infrastructure for the buses across five European countries. According to Hydrogen Europe, the projects are co-funded by a 32 million Euro grant from the Clean Hydrogen Partnership under the Horizon Europe programme (Hydrogen Europe, 2022). The overall goal of the JIVE and JIVE2 projects is to promote the commercialisation of fuel-cell buses through large-scale deployment of vehicles and infrastructure so that by the end of the project, it is commercially viable for bus operators to include fuel-cell buses in their fleets without subsidy. As a political consequence of the projects, the advocates of JIVE and JIVE2 aim to empower local authorities and national governments to make regulations for zero emission propulsion.



Figure: Hydrogen pilot projects funded by the EU Source: European Commission, 2022 & EVERYWH2ERE, 2022 & GREEN HYSLAND, 2022 & Hydrogen Europe, 2022 & HYPSTER, 2022 & H2Haul, 2022


EVERYWH2ER

The project stands for hydrogen applications in everyday life. Specifically, the project aims to develop innovative fuel-cell transportable gensets to replace traditional gensets by providing zero noise/zero emissions. The fuel-cell gensets will be tested at construction sites, music festivals, and urban public events all around Europe. EVERYWH2ERE has already been running for four years and will be finished by the end of 2023, according to the project plan (EVERYWH2ERE, 2022). Two years after the completion of the project, the leaders expect to publish their results and conclusions regarding among other aspects, safety standards for the gensets, application for the gensets in other countries, a selection of the first entry markets, and recommendations for up-scaling production.


HYPSTER

HYPSTER is yet another hydrogen pilot project funded by the Horizon Europe fund. HYPSTER is located in France and has the goal of using salt cavern storage to connect hydrogen injection by electrolysis to industrial and mobility uses. The budget for the project is 13 million Euros and the first phase began in 2020 (HYPSTER, 2022). Currently, construction of the electrolysis unit for onsite green hydrogen production is underway, and when complete, is expected to produce 400 kg of hydrogen per day. HYPSTER will serve as a model for further other hydrogen sites using salt caverns for storage.


By supporting these various pilot projects through the Horizon Europe programme, the EU can gain beneficial insights into the manifold application of hydrogen, draft necessary political regulations to further develop widespread hydrogen deployment, and thereby overall, sharpen the EU’s hydrogen strategy for the future.

Sources:

European Commission. 2022. Horizon Europe, https://research-and-innovation.ec.europa.eu/funding/funding-opportunities/funding-programmes-and-open-calls/horizon-europe_en.


EVERYWH2ERE. 2022. PROJECT BRIEF, https://www.everywh2ere.eu/project-brief/.


GREEN HYSLAND. 2022. Green Hysland, https://greenhysland.eu/.


Hydrogen Europe, 2022. Fuel Cell Electric Buses – JIVE, https://www.fuelcellbuses.eu/projects/jive.


HYPSTER. 2022. The project. https://hypster-project.eu/about-the-project/.


H2Haul. 2022. H2Haul in a Nutshell, https://www.h2haul.eu/about/.

Transnational cooperation fosters the exchange of expertise and forms joint visions of the future, especially for new technologies. The benefits of such cooperation are evident in the EU’s hydrogen strategy. According to the European Commission, almost all Member States have included plans for clean hydrogen in their National Energy and Climate Plans, and 26 have signed up to the ‘Hydrogen Initiative’ (European Commission, 2020). Some have already adopted national strategies on hydrogen or are in the process of adopting one. The common denominator in all these efforts is the EU Strategy on Hydrogen, which was adopted in 2020.


In line with its long-term goal of decarbonising the European industry, the European Green Deal, and to aid the post-Covid 19 economic recovery, the EU intends to explore further applications of green hydrogen, to increase investments in its research, and to set-up an investment-friendly environment to attract funding for hydrogen pilot projects. These aims are outlined within the framework of the EU’s Hydrogen Strategy (European Commission, 2020).


One notable element of the Hydrogen Strategy was the foundation of the ‘European Clean Hydrogen Alliance’, which consists of industry, national and local authorities, as well as other stakeholders in civilian society. The ambitious aim of the joint program is to deploy numerous hydrogen technologies by 2030. This will be achieved by bringing together renewable and low-carbon hydrogen production, and hydrogen transmission and distribution to meet demands in industry, transport, and other sectors. One important step towards the Strategy’s goal was the introduction of the ‘Hydrogen Pipeline’ in November 2021. According to the European Commission, the ‘Hydrogen Pipeline’ includes 750 hydrogen projects from all parts of the value chain (e.g., production, transmission, distribution, and application), (European Commission, 2022).


The EU’s Hydrogen Strategy supports investment in these clean hydrogen projects through the Commission’s recovery plan, and through the Strategic European Investment Window of ‘InvestEU’. The investment plan for the EU’s hydrogen strategy is also bolstered by regulative and policy amendments. To this end, in the proposed directive on the internal market for hydrogen the EU Commission included amongst others, a common threshold for low-carbon hydrogen, and certification schemes for renewables (such as low-carbon hydrogen). Furthermore, rules for hydrogen infrastructure, access to hydrogen markets, and the integrity of the market were also added to the proposal.

Figure: High-level overview of the EU's Hydrogen Strategy Source: European Commission, 2022


The EU’s Hydrogen Strategy not only stands as a positive example of international cooperation, but also enshrines the strength of EU leadership in setting global technical standards, definitions, and regulations for hydrogen. Moreover, the EU is also promoting cooperation on hydrogen with Southern and Eastern Neighbourhood partners, as well as Energy Community countries, and the African Union. The implementation of the EU’s Hydrogen Strategy is finished with the publication of the REPowerEU plan in May 2022. The document stresses two key points: 1) renewable hydrogen is an important energy carrier for reducing dependence on fossil fuel imports from Russia; and 2) accelerating the deployment of hydrogen technologies will facilitate the EU’s energy transition and decarbonising the EU’s energy system (European Commission, 2022).


Sources:

European Commission. 2020. Key actions of the EU Hydrogen Strategy, https://energy.ec.europa.eu/topics/energy-systems-integration/hydrogen/key-actions-eu-hydrogen-strategy_en.


European Commission. 2022. Hydrogen, https://energy.ec.europa.eu/topics/energy-systems-integration/hydrogen_en.

Even though there are several challenges facing the integration of hydrogen into Germany’s market, nonetheless there are many innovative pilot-projects that have been planned, revised, and implemented within the framework of Germany’s National Hydrogen strategy. These hydrogen projects originate from different private companies, state owned enterprises, and academic institutions, but are all approved and subsidised by the German state. This article presents details about two of these state sponsored projects below.


‘Green Wilhelmshaven’ by Uniper

The Swedish energy company Uniper was recently the focus of media attention due to its complete takeover by the state of Germany. Uniper was nationalised because it suffered from high financial losses. These losses resulted from increasing energy costs after natural gas exports from the Russian Federation to multiple European countries were stopped. However, Uniper’s recent actions to participate in the green energy transition within Europe are noteworthy. In particular, Uniper has made hydrogen play a vital role in its strategy for a sustainable world, and the company is running pilot-projects that apply use of the element within the industry and energy sectors.


One of these projects is the ‘Green Wilhelmshaven’ in Northern Germany. This planned hub consists of an offshore wind-park, an import terminal for green ammonia, facilities for the reconversion of ammonia to green hydrogen, and hydrogen storing facilities (Uniper, 2022). Ammonia’s high volumetric energy density, low production costs, and good storability make it one of the most attractive means of transporting hydrogen (Uniper, 2022). The ‘Green Wilhelmshaven’ project makes good use of these benefits; a centrepiece of the project includes the construction of an installation for the treatment of ammonia, which would be the first large-scale plant of its kind. For storing hydrogen produced at the plant, Uniper will rely on the existing infrastructure in Krummhörn near the town of Wilhelmshaven (The Maritime Executive, 2022). There, Uniper will oversee the construction and operation of a new salt cavern specifically built for hydrogen storage at the already existing natural gas storage facility, which has not been operational since 2017 (The Maritime Executive, 2022). The commissioning of this plant with a storage volume of up to 250,000 cubic meters of hydrogen is planned for 2024. In general, the whole hub would be capable of supplying around 295,000 metric tons or 10% of the hydrogen demand expected for the whole of Germany in 2030 (Uniper, 2022).

Figure: Germany: Pilot Projects as the backbone of the National Hydrogen Strategy, Source: Uniper, 2022 & Westküste 100, 2022


‘Westküste 100’

In 2019, a joint consortium consisting of among others, the University of FH Westküste, the French energy company of the EDF Group, and the German industrial company Thyssen Krupp submitted a project concept for the application of green hydrogen called ‘Westküste 100’ to the German Federal Ministry of Economics (Westküste 100, 2022).

The Project is located in the northern German region of Schleswig Holstein and is a ‘real-laboratory’, meaning that it is a project aiming for constant development and real-time optimization (NDR, 2021). The first step of the project plan is to install a hydrogen-producing electrolysis power plant with a capacity of thirty megawatts. This first facility will provide insight into the operation, maintenance, control, and grid serviceability of such plants and will serve as a model for the construction of further, larger facilities of a similar kind. The project envisages that in the future all these electrolysis plants will be powered by wind energy and produce green hydrogen. The long-term goal of ‘Westküste 100’ is to scale-up the output of green hydrogen so that it can be used in the heavy industry, energy, and transportation sectors of the region, and eventually throughout Germany (Westküste 100, 2022).


Sources:

NDR. 2021. "Westküste 100": Die Idee vom CO2-freien Heizen, https://www.ndr.de/nachrichten/schleswig-holstein/Westkueste-100-Die-Idee-vom-CO2-freien-Heizen,westkueste104.html.

The Maritime Executive. 2022. Uniper Proceeding with Pilot Hydrogen Storage Project in Germany​, https://maritime-exevcutive.com/article/uniper-proceeding-with-pilot-hydrogen-storage-project-in-germany.

Uniper. 2022. Green Wilhelmshaven​, https://www.uniper.energy/projects-and-cases/green-wilhelmshaven.

Westküste 100. 2022. Complete sector coupling: Green hydrogen and decarbonisation on an industrial scale, https://www.westkueste100.de/en/.

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